The U.K. government said on Thursday it had imposed asset freezes on seven Russian businessmen including Roman Abramovich, Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska and Dmitri Lebedev after they were added to the country’s sanctions list.
“There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine,” U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson said.
Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea football club, Deripaska has stakes in En+ Group, Sechin is the chief executive of Rosneft and Lebedev is chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya.
The U.K. government said it would enable Chelsea to continue playing matches after it imposed sanctions on Abramovich, halting his plan to sell the English Premier League side.
Abramovich had put the club up for sale, but Britain’s asset freeze and sanctions on him bar that process under the terms of the licence granted to the club.
Nadine Dorries, Britain’s minister for sport, said the government had issued a special licence to enable Chelsea to play fixtures, pay staff and enable ticket holders to attend matches, because it did not want to harm the reigning European and world soccer champions.
“I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended,” she said on Twitter. “Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”
The government said the licence would be kept under review.
Sources have told ESPN that has received multiple bids for Chelsea but none have yet matched his £3 billion (3.94bn) valuation.
According to sources. a consortium including Los Angeles Dodgers and LA Lakers part-owner Todd Boehly alongside Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss have already tabled a bid in an effort to push ahead in the race.