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Chelsea’s travel troubles

Chelsea’s travel troubles

Government sanctions mean that Chelsea can only spend £20,000 on away trips. How much does it cost to take a football club abroad?

How do you take a football club abroad for less than £20,000?

When Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, he told the Financial Times that he just wanted to blend into the background.

“I’m sure people will focus on me for three or four days but it will pass,” he said. “They’ll forget who I am, and I like that.”

But 19 years later, as Russia invades Ukraine, the British government has sanctioned Roman Abramovich because of his links to the Russian president. 

“In a statement outlining those sanctions, the government said Abramovich is associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin with whom Abramovich has had a close relationship for decades.”

Sky News

He had been trying to sell Chelsea, but he didn’t manage to do it in time, so the club has been issued with a special licence, which allows it to continue until the end of May this year. 

Any potential sale has been put on hold. Although the government is willing to consider a further addition to the special licence to allow it to be sold.

In the meantime though, the sanctioning of its owner will have major implications for the club and creates problems in particular for away games abroad .

“Chelsea is now in limbo, barred from buying and selling players or renegotiating contracts. It can’t sell further tickets and commercial activities will be restricted with no merchandising available. Under a special licence however, the club can continue to play, pay players and staff and existing ticket holders can attend matches.”

BBC

Any profit that Chelsea makes will go into the frozen fund. 

The government has allocated up to £500,000 for it to continue hosting home matches. That will pay for security, stewarding and catering. 

Reasonable costs of travel to and from fixtures, or for the purposes of training and practice are also allowed. 

Any of Chelsea’s club teams are able to take players and essential staff – including security – to away fixtures. 

The maximum budget allowed is £20,000, and that’s going to prove problematic, because on Wednesday, Chelsea play their Champions League second leg against Lille. 

“You mentioned before Mark the travel restrictions, obviously eyes on the Champions League, how are they going to get round that?”

“Well Chelsea say that everything, certainly for Lille next week, has been paid up front. So that isn’t a problem, but the problem will start when…if Chelsea get through, they’re 2-0 up from the first leg so if Chelsea get through and for instance they draw Real Madrid…how do they get to Real Madrid, to Madrid for maybe a one or two night stay and cover that for 20 thousand pounds? The difficulty is how do they get there? How do they pay for the flight? How do they pay for the accommodation?”

ESPN

The trip to Lille may have already been paid for, but let’s consider how much it might be costing to understand just how expensive any future foreign fixtures might be.

When a club like Chelsea plays away it usually takes around 50 people – and that’s a conservative estimate.

That’s made up of the 25-man squad, manager, assistant manager, coaching staff, medical and support staff, media department and directors. 

Chelsea have 13 coaches listed on their website… so with the players, that’s 38 already.

A quick search on the Eurostar website revealed that a business class return fare to Lille next Tuesday would cost around £490. 

Times that by 50 and you’re already at £24,500. 

Remember the government has capped the budget for away games at £20,000.

They will also need to stay in Lille for at least one night to fulfil media obligations.

A four star hotel room there costs around £220, so that’s another eleven thousand pounds.

So how will they make their budget work?

It’s been suggested that Chelsea will appeal to the government to increase their budget for away travel. 

But the sanctions are in place to keep costs at a bare minimum, and it’s possible that Chelsea will have to make some cutbacks, either to the number of staff they take or the level of luxury they get whilst there. 

Fans aren’t happy. 

“Obviously we all support Ukraine. What Russia’s doing is totally wrong. But I don’t think we should suffer for it.”

BBC

“We tried to get Middlesbrough tickets away in the cup today, and we couldn’t get none now. They’re not selling tickets. They’re not allowed to sell tickets. 50-odd years and I can’t get a ticket now.”

Channel 4 News

Travel will be just one of many complications for Chelsea, as it navigates its way through the government’s sanctions. 

After playing Norwich on the day they were announced, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said they hadn’t affected the team yet…

“I mean there are a lot of situations and listen today like I said was another level of distraction, and another level with all the sanctions that are actually happening but in the day-to-day like how we arrive to the game and like how everything was organised, it was pretty much business as usual but with a lot of noise around.”

Scottish Sun

Roman Abramovich may have wanted to “blend into the background,” when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge, but his links to Vladimir Putin have put him and his club firmly under the microscope.

Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford and produced by Claudia Williams.