As the U.K. sanctioned seven oligarchs worth some $19 billion, the big question on Twitter had to do with travel budgets.
As part of the sanctions, the U.K. gave a temporary license allowing the Premier League soccer giant Chelsea Football Club to continue to operate even as its owner, Roman Abramovich, has his assets frozen.
In the fine print, however, the sanctions state: “Reasonable costs of travel to and from Fixtures (or for the purposes of training or practice) by any of the Club teams for players and essential staff (including the reasonable cost of any travel company making such arrangements and necessary security staff or contractors) not exceeding the value of £20,000 per game per Club team.” At current exchange rates, £20,000 is equal to $26,325.
That limitation could be a problem. Hugo Sheckter, the founder and managing director of the Player Care Group who worked at U.K. soccer clubs West Ham and Southampton, estimates it costs at least £30,000 for a flight, security, food and hotels. In fact, he said, that’s a conservative estimate.
“Going abroad, don’t see how they can do anything other than either commercial flights or drive their bus and significant drop in standard of hotel,” he wrote over Twitter.
Chelsea next week face Lille, in France, in a vital Champions League match, and will progress in the tournament if they win, draw, lose by one goal, or lose by two goals but also score.
Closer to home, the club’s merchandise store at its Stamford Bridge stadium in West London was rapidly closed. A sign was posted on the doors informing would-be shoppers it was “due to the latest government announcement.”
When Chelsea took to the pitch Thursday afternoon at Norwich City, the “3” logo was in evidence on its shirts.
The U.K. government license expires at the end of May.