The effects of Ukraine’s current struggle against Russia have been well documented in terms of all the social and political implications. However, I won’t be tackling any of those issues here; I wouldn’t know where to start. Instead, I’ll try to convey my haphazard thoughts on a matter that I do know a bit more about; Chelsea Football Club.
As a lifelong Chelsea fan, the moral dilemma I, along with several others like me, have been facing is quite odd. It’s no secret that the club is owned by a Russian Oligarch— Roman Abramovich. A man who’s known to have significant ties with the Putin regime that’s been running rampant. It shouldn’t be too hard to be against the act of war, right? It isn’t. The UK Government seems to agree as well. Albeit in a manner that is quite questionable.
On the 10th of March, the UK Government moved to sanction Roman Abramovich and freeze all his assets. This seemed to be in line with global sanctions on Russia. However, it came about at a time when the owner of the club was already in talks of selling the club. So by freezing Abramovich’s assets, the government had essentially taken over the sale of the club. These events have put the club in a precarious situation, with fans losing access to various resources, including tickets and the merchandise shops that the club operates.
It’s evident from Roman quashing his loans to the club worth £1.5 Billion that he’s not in it for the money. So, what exactly was the intention behind stopping the sales of tickets and merchandise? Surely those funds could’ve been allocated to a separate account that Roman wouldn’t be able to access, right? It’s all speculation for now, and I wouldn’t want to add any more fuel to the conspiracy fire.
As if it wasn’t already hard enough with the turmoil surrounding the sanctions, the club’s sale has so far produced enough drama to fill an entire season of some business drama. With Abramovich handing the responsibility of selling the club to the American institution, Raine, things seemed to be finally going positively. However, the whole situation was turned upside down when SMG, the group which was seemingly the favourite to win the bid for the club, couldn’t even make the shortlist.
From SMG’s misfortune rose the Ricketts family. Their group had somehow made up enough ground to make it into the four shortlisted groups in contention for ownership of the club, which was an odd situation altogether considering the relative silence of the group beforehand. Up until recently, it was looking like the Ricketts family would be running away with the win out of nowhere. This was helped by the fact that the family had previously worked with Raine on other projects.
Despite heavy criticism towards members of the family for being openly racist and Islamophobic, success for them looked to be guaranteed. Nevertheless, the fans’ loud protests seemed to have worked in the end, as the Ricketts family pulled out of the race at the last moment on the 15th of April.
At this moment, another American, Todd Boehly and his consortium are looking like the prime candidates for finalising the sale. But, as a fan, I am still sceptical given how erratic this whole ordeal has been so far. There might just be a final twist in the tale that we’ve yet to find out about. But, things remain uncertain for the time being for every Chelsea fan who just wants the club they fell in love with to find a proper home in which its legacy wouldn’t be exploited.