The banner honoring Chelsea’s Russian owner was seen at Stamford Bridge on Sunday
Chelsea fans defiantly displayed a banner dedicated to owner Roman Abramovich during their Premier League game against Newcastle on Sunday, even after the Russian billionaire was hit with sanctions by the UK government.
banner reading ‘Roman Empire’ with an image of Abramovich and the colors of the Russian flag were on display at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea cruised to a 1-0 win thanks to a late goal from Kai Havertz.
The game was Chelsea’s first home game since Abramovich was sanctioned by the British government last week for the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
The Russian oligarch’s UK assets have been frozen, throwing Chelsea’s future into uncertainty.
Chelsea have been granted a general license to continue to operate and play matches, although they are subject to ticket and merchandise sales bans.
Spending on home and away game days is limited, and the Blues are also barred from doing transfer deals or negotiating new contracts with players.
Crucially, Abramovich is now barred from selling the club unless a deal is sanctioned by the UK government and he receives no proceeds.
Over the weekend, the Premier League announced that Abramovich had been disqualified as club manager, while several Chelsea sponsors suspended relations, the latest being car manufacturer Hyundai.
Chelsea fans have come under fire in recent days for continuing to chant Abramovich’s name, with UK government minister Chris Philp urging them to refrain from any show of support for the sanctioned businessman for his alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin – something Abramovich has always denied.
Amid the uncertainty surrounding Chelsea’s financial situation, reports in the UK media claim that several stars are already considering their future, although Thomas Tuchel reiterated after the Newcastle game that he would stay at least until the end of the season.
“There is no doubt that I will stay until the end of the season, absolutely.” said the German, who guided the Blues to the Champions League and Club World Cup crowns during his 13 months in charge.
“We just have to wait and we still have to go day by day because everything can change.
“But as you know, the situation is clear: the club is for sale, and hopefully that will sort things out and give us perspective.
“But this is pure speculation and I don’t have any more information than you already have.”
Chelsea will then face a trip to France to take on Lille in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16, with Tuchel pledging to lead the team to the game if necessary.
“My last information is that we have a plane, that we can go by plane and come back by plane”, Tuchel said when asked about the cost restrictions imposed on Chelsea, which cap spending at £20,000 ($27,000) per away game.
“Otherwise we go by train, otherwise we go by bus – otherwise I drive a seven-seater. And I will. Mark my words, I will do it, I will make it happen”, said Tuchel.
Sunday’s game against Newcastle took place against a politically charged backdrop, with the visitors from the North East facing their own scrutiny from their new Saudi owners.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe refused to answer questions about the club’s majority owners, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), when told the Middle Eastern Kingdom had executed 81 people the day before for terrorism-related offences.