Sanctions as they affect UK football clubs.

“We all support Ukraine but why should Chelsea Football fans suffer?” – Chelsea supporter talking to BBC Radio 5 Live.

The hard line on football.

I happened to wake up to Oz Katerji on BBC’s up all night talking about how the situation in Ukraine resulted from a series of appeasements from Syria onwards tolerating Russian brutality and war crimes.


The situation that Chelsea finds itself is not funny for Chelsea or for its fans, but it is clearly funny to Oz Katerji witnessing violence in Ukraine.

Are the sanctions against Roman Abramovich morally the righteous thing to do? One answer is that the £1.5bn poured into Chelsea over the past 19 years is now dirty money.

So why wasn’t this money dirty when it started arising in 2003? Is it because we are only now waking up to Putin’s murderous behavior? Abramovich reportedly made his money by dispensation to buy Russian state assets at knock down prices, meaning that property that had previously been owned by the Russian people was loaned to Chelsea FC enabling them to win a lot of trophies.


Britain has welcomed not just Abramovich but other Russian businessmen to buy property and invest in football clubs.

Scott Parker claims that Maxim Demin’s investment in AFC Bournemouth is ok  because Demin is now a British citizen.

I would be interested to know what Bournemouth know about its owner.

Demin is said to have made his fortune in the oil-rich Muslim province of Tatarstan, on the River Volga in central Russia. Between 2000 to 2005 he was an assistant to the general director of Tatneft, the sixth largest oil company in Russia. He was regarded as a key financial fixer, with sources claiming he has shares in Tatneft worth around £40m.

Russian sources says he has links to a major bank as well as one of the country’s leading insurance companies. 

I know enough to have ditched my support for a club , despite its recent success. If you are a British citizen, live in Britain not in Switzerland. If you own a club , watch your team.


Everton has been receiving £20m pa from Alisher Usmanov, a key investor in Everton Football Club solely through sponsorship deals but not a shareholder. Sumanov is named  on a list of 26 oligarchs to be sanctioned by the EU. Usmanov had his assets frozen by the European Union and others were outlawed from making funds available to him.  On Wednesday, Everton suspended all sponsorship deals with Usmanov.

We get no real benefit from Russian money in football.

As with our appeasement of Russia’s behavior in Syria, in Crimea, indeed in Salisbury, the permission granted football clubs to take money with few questions asked about its provenance is a disgrace. But that does not make it the right thing for sanctions to be applied now. Many Chelsea fans, like my son, stopped being Chelsea fans when they found out how the club’s success had been founded.

I was a Bournemouth fan in the 1970s  and right through to the arrival of Maxim Demin’s money (buying a 50% stake in the club) in 2011. I switched my allegiance to Yeovil Town – as did my son. The taint of Russian money , leveraged from state ownership to the ownership of private individuals under the watch of Putin, was enough for me. I nor my son were not prepared to give Demin the benefit of the doubt.

My message to Chelsea fans

Your club deserves your support, it is unlikely that it will continue to win Champions Leagues or Premiership titles in the short term. But it will be a better club without dirty money.

Even if Chelsea has to return to being another London club and has to compete with Fulham, Brentford , QPR and Palace rather than PSG , Real Madrid or Liverpool, it will be a better club for it. Everton will be a better club without the sponsorship of Usmanov, Bournemouth will be a better club without Demin.

It isn’t as easy to taunt opposition fans when you aren’t always winning, but at least you have got your team back.

You may argue that the money behind other clubs in the premiership is also dirty, I would agree, it too should be investigated. But we are facing a crisis because of Russia, Putin and his oligarchs. We cannot but act now.

Feeling the pain

Chelsea fans ask why they feel the pain. The truth is that we all will feel the pain of our appeasement of Putin over the years. It is like not going to the dentist for 20 years and complaining you’ve got to have teeth out.

But  painful as sanctions will be on UK citizens, our pain is as nothing to the pain being endured by Ukrainain citizens. Indeed it’s funny even making the comparison.

We may like to think that since we withdrew from the EU, we have immunised ourselves from European issues. This war shows that we haven’t. We cannot immunise our stock markets, we cannot shut off our borders and we must expect the consequences of sanctions to hurt our pockets and sometimes our allegiances.

So I applaud action taken against Oligarchs as the morally righteous thing to do and call on us all to wake up and smell the coffee, we may not be at war, but we are casualties of the war, which by appeasement we have brought on.

Going to the dentist after 20 years

I speak with feeling , having had seven teeth out in the past three months.

We are about to see a tightening of belts as interest rates and inflation rise, as net pay falls and as pensions fail to keep up. We are going to have to take a whole lot more pain because of this untimely war (as if wars could be timely).

The action we now have to take against Putin, is the worse for our not taking it over the past twenty years. But it is not too late to save the remaining teeth. A failure to do the righteous thing right now, would be disastrous.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Sanctions as they affect UK football clubs.

  1. con keating says:

    Has no-one told these people that this is just not cricket?

  2. Brian G says:

    A lot of the Premiership are funded by the dirty money of their dubious owners. That’s why I can take the moral high ground being a west ham fan. Gold and Sullivan have made their money from the oldest profession and business activity around. Come on you irons.

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