EU ‘agrees to freeze’ Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s assets

European Union diplomats have agreed to add Roman Abramovich to the EU list of Russian billionaires sanctioned following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to two sources.

Envoys were expected to reconvene at 11am on Monday to adopt the measure and a further set of economic sanctions against Russia, a report by Reuters said.

The sanctions will come into effect after publication of the EU’s official journal, which usually happens within hours or theday following formal approval.

Image: Mr Abramovich has owned Chelsea for over two decades, winning multiple trophies including the Champions League and Premier League

The Chelsea football club owner was sanctioned in the UK last week with the British government saying the move was due to Mr Abramovich having a “close relationship for decades” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The new sanctions by the EU will hit people active in the Russian steel industry and others who provide financial services, military products and technology to the Russian state, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday.

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One EU diplomat said no concerns were raised about the new sanctions, suggesting Mr Abramovich’s listings “will go through” and a second official said the billionaire holds a Portuguese passport and Portugal could in principle refrain from imposing the sanctions decided at the EU level.

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The sanctions came as Evraz – the UK-listed steel and coal business part-owned by Mr Abramovich – was deleted from London stock indices together with three other Russia-focused companies and 10 members of the companies board quit last week after sanctions were imposed on the billionaire by the UK government.

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Pat Nevin says that rich owners with suspect connections not owning football clubs could lead to ‘the biggest league in the world’ forming somewhere else… but he adds that if that were to happen then ‘so be it’.

The UK sanctions have also impacted last season’s Champions League winners Chelsea, who have been thrown into disarray since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In other developments

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Roman Abramovich has been disqualified as a director of Chelsea Football Club, the Premier League has announced

Mr Abramovich initially proposed to place the club in the care of its foundation and then put it up for sale for £3bn, with several billionaires including property Nick Candy linked with the takeover.

However, the sanctions imposed on him in the UK means his sale of the club may not be possible.

Read more: Chelsea Football Club: How sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich will affect fans

The Stamford Bridge club will be given a special licence to continue operating, under limited terms and will be unable to sell new tickets, sign players or extend contracts and open retail outfits.

The sale of the club could still go ahead if the government issues another licence.

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On 11 March, Chelsea’s bank account was temporarily suspended by Barclays while it assess the licence which Chelsea has been given and sponsors including Three UK and Hyundai suspended their association with the club.

Chelsea, who play Lille in France on Wednesday, are hopeful the suspension will be lifted shortly.