Chelsea fans have been ordered to stop their “completely inappropriate” chanting of owner Roman Abramovich’s name by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according the latter’s spokesperson.
Clutches of Blues supporters have continued to bellow the name of the outgoing club owner, amid sanctions issued against him by the UK government in relation to the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Chelsea fans feel a connection to the Russian oligarch, whose leadership and wealth has brought numerous trophies to Stamford Bridge over the past decade. Abramovich, however, has a direct connection to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and following the invasion of Ukraine, the UK government sanctioned him and froze his assets.
The actions of fans who remain in support of Abramovich have already come under fire in other quarters, with many fans of other clubs upset at those who equate the hardships of the Ukrainian people with those of a football fan.
Now a spokesperson for Johnson has further weighed in on the matter.
What did Boris Johnson say to Chelsea fans?
During the last two Chelsea matches, both away at Carrow Road against Norwich City and home against Newcastle United, Blues fans chanted in support of Abramovich.
“We’ve got Abramovich,” chant Chelsea fans at Carrow Road.
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 10, 2022
“We recognize the strength of feeling around people’s clubs,” came an official statement from Johnson’s spokesperson. “But that does not excuse behavior which is completely inappropriate at this time.
“I think people can show passion and support for their club without resorting to that sort of stuff.”
While the chanting from the away end at Carrow Road was emphatic, it did seem to ease during the home match against Newcastle, according to reports from the ground.
To the credit of Chelsea fans, the only chant about Abramovich so far has just come from Newcastle fans (and it’s not positive).
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 13, 2022
PM weighs in on potential Chelsea sale
Elsewhere, Johnson’s spokesperson spoke out on the potential sale of the club, with Abramovich having looked to offload it before the sanctions hit.
“We are open to the sale of the club, we would consider an application for a license to allow that to happen in the right circumstances,” it was added.
“But it is for Chelsea to determine the exact process. My understanding is potential buyers would approach the club, who would then need to apply for a further amended license to facilitate the sale. As far as I’m aware that hasn’t happened at this point.”
Abramovich has publicly announced he will sell the club, and that appears to be the best way out from under the sanctions for Chelsea. At the current juncture, the club is unable to take income and limited in its ability to spend.
Thomas Tuchel responds to Johnson’s remarks
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has responded to the comments by Boris Johnson, unhappy that the matter is being discussed by the UK government and believing there are more important needs to address.
Asked about the situation in his pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League match against Lille, Tuchel hit back.
“I heard about it some minutes ago,” Tuchel said. “I don’t know if these are the most important subjects to be talked about in parliament. If they are being discussed in parliament, maybe we need to worry about the priorities of discussion.”