Chelsea Champions League game ‘at risk’ after EU blacklists Abramovich
Chelsea's Champions League match at Lille on Wednesday is under threat because of new European Union (EU) sanctions on Russian owner Roman Abramovich, a report has claimed.
Businessman Abramovich was accused of having "privileged access" to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a new EU blacklist released on Tuesday, issued in the wake of the UK government imposing a range of punishments on the billionaire and the Premier League club as part of its sanctions list.
Chelsea are allowed to operate and play matches in the UK under a government licence aimed at controlling any money generated by the club while Abramovich is in charge.
A new licence could be required to allow them to take part in matches in Europe, according to L'Equipe.
Figures at the club, competition organizers UEFA and the Council of the EU are aware of the risk the sanctions pose to the round of 16 second leg, the report suggested.
"If there is no exception listed in the texts... concerning these sanctions, I think that there is a real risk for the holding of the match in Lille and the players who participate in this meeting," the outlet quoted a source as saying.
Chelsea are operating on a limited budget of £20,000 ($26,000) for the away trip under the restrictions.
The report said that Chelsea will need "necessary" documentation for the tie, although they may be given a licence in respect of "sporting fairness".
Coach Thomas Tuchel joked that he will drive a seven-seater minibus to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy if required.
Chelsea been in the headlines again for all the wrong reasons after initially requesting that their FA Cup quarterfinal trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday should be played behind closed doors.
The club cannot sell tickets to their home or away matches, with only season ticket holders able to watch games at Stamford Bridge.
The eight-time FA Cup winners later withdrew the request after Middlesbrough issued a stinging statement, rebuking the request as "bizarre" and "ironic".
"The FA remains in ongoing discussions with Chelsea, the Premier League and the government to find a solution that would enable both Chelsea fans to attend games and away fans to attend Stamford Bridge, while ensuring sanctions are respected," the FA said, while Chelsea added they were "grateful for the FA's continuing efforts to help us find a solution".
Currently on a four-game winning streak despite their off-field issues, Chelsea face an uncertain future.
Abramovich put the club up for sale on March 2, and MailOnline claims sources have told them that as many as 200 parties are interested in taking over the reigning world and European champions, with the Saudi Media Group reportedly putting in a $3.5 million bid on Monday.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, confirmed that the UK government is "open to the sale of the club".
Abramovich, who denies having done anything to deserve being punished, will not not allowed to benefit in any way.
Other consequences of the sanctions mean that Chelsea are not allowed to buy or sell players or tie current first-team stars to new contracts.
Some fans fear Tuchel's men might not be able to finish the current season if the restrictions are not eased.