The only way Roman Abramovich can save Chelsea from bankruptcy

MINISTERS have revealed the only way Roman Abramovich can save Chelsea from the threat of bankruptcy.

The Government has said there is a way out for the stricken West London club – but its sanctioned owner probably won't like it.



No 10 has announced the Russian oligarch will still be able to effectively give the club away for free.

Digital minister Chris Philp said the Government is prepared to approve a sale so long as Mr Abramovich doesn't profit from it.

His remarks come amid warnings the Stamford Bridge outfit risks folding completely if it can't find a new owner within the next 81 days.

Mr Abramovich was whacked with an asset freeze and travel ban yesterday morning with the Government citing close ties to Vladimir Putin.

That means the day to day running Chelsea is effectively paralysed with the club unable to even sell tickets or merchandise from its megastore.

Ministers have granted team a licence to carry on trading so it can pay its £333million-a-year wage bill and around 1,000 staff.

It can also continue to fulfil Premier League and European fixtures but under strict cost conditions.

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Chelsea is only allowed to spend £20,000 in expenses per game to cover costs like travel and hotels for away fixtures.

Bosses have applied to the Government to increase that limit to £60,000 arguing trips to the continent cost upwards of £60,000.

Mr Philp was asked today whether the club could be sold on to another owner to save it from potential oblivion.

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He said: "As the licence conditions are written today the sale would not be allowed.

"If a buyer emerged then it would be open to that buyer or to the football club to approach the Government and asked for the licence conditions to be varied in a way that allowed that sale to take place.

"But to be clear, no proposal would be accepted which saw the proceeds of any sale ending up in an unrestricted bank account owned by Abramovich. He can't benefit from the proceeds of any sale."

The comments raise the possibility he could sell the club if the money were to go into one of his frozen accounts, meaning he couldn't access it.

At the beginning of the month Mr Abramovich put the club up for sale with a reported asking price of £3 billion.

He also reportedly tried to shift his £150 million property in ultra pricey Kensington Palace gardens, plus another flat in the capital.

CHANT PLEA

Mr Philp urged Chelsea fans not to sing in support of their owner after his name was chanted by supporters at Norwich last night.

The Russian oligarch has brought an unprecedented era of success to Stamford Bridge since buying the club for £140 million in 2003.

But the digital minister said: "I understand why fans are very attached to their football clubs.

"But Roman Abramovich is somebody who has been sanctioned now for his very close links to Vladimir Putin and the Putin regime.

"And I just say respectfully to the Chelsea fans, I know he's done a lot for the club.

"But the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and what The Russian regime are doing to civilians – shelling maternity hospitals and shooting civilians who are fleeing down humanitarian corridors – that is more important than football. I would just ask them to keep that in mind."

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