U.K. imposes sanctions on Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich_freckle removal serum

U.K. imposes sanctions on Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner Roman AbramovichUnpreceded restrictions have been placed on Chelsea's ability to operate by the British government after owner Roman Abramovich is targeted in sanctions.

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British government's 'special license' freezes Russian owner's ability to sell club

Rob Harris · The Associated Press(Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

European and world soccer champion Chelsea was among the assets of Roman Abramovich frozen by the British government on Thursday after he was sanctioned for his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Team activities from selling new tickets to signing players were instantly restricted. The merchandise store at the Stamford Bridge stadium in west London was rapidly closed with a sign on the doors telling supporters it was "due to the latest government announcement."

The unprecedented government measures placed on an English Premier League team mean Chelsea can operate only under a special "Russia Regulations" license through May 31 that stymies Abramovich's rapid plan to sell the club. However, Chelsea is allowed to keep playing, with a game at Norwich on Thursday night.

WATCH | U.K. sanctions hit Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner:

U.K. sanctions hit Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea soccer club

1 hour agoDuration 2:02Britain imposed a raft of new sanctions against several Russian oligarchs on Thursday, including an asset freeze and travel ban for Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich. The sanctions could have a major impact on the soccer club’s future, stopping Abramovich’s attempt to sell it.2:02

Chelsea was put up for sale only last week as calls grew for the owner to be sanctioned for his close links to Putin's regime, with Abramovich saying the proceeds would go to a foundation started by him for the victims of the war. The sale process is also subject to government approval.

"While the current license does not permit the sale of the club at this time, the government is open to a sale of the club and would consider an application for a new license to allow for a sale," the government said. "Proceeds from any sale could not go to the sanctioned individual while he is subject to sanctions."

Chelsea said it will be "seeking permission for the license to be amended in order to allow the club to operate as normal as possible." The Premier League said it was working with Chelsea and authorities "to ensure the season will proceed as planned and in line with the government's intention."

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The government called Abramovich a "pro-Kremlin oligarch" who is worth more than nine billion pounds ($12 billion US), and should be punished due to his association with Putin. Abramovich was also linked with "destabilizing ... undermining and threatening" Ukraine.

Abramovich, whose fortune was made in oil and aluminium during the chaotic years that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, has not condemned Russia's invasion of its neighbour in two statements since the war began two weeks ago.

WATCH | Calls grow to sanction Russian businessmen with ties to Canadian companies:

Calls for Canada to sanction prominent Russian businessmen

8 days agoDuration 2:11Experts are calling on Canada to sanction prominent Russian businessmen Roman Abramovich and Konstantin Babkin, who own percentages in Canadian companies. The threat of sanctions has already caused both men to cut some of their international ties.Chelsea tops Lille as Juventus-Villareal play to draw in Champions League round of 16


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