Blues supporters have continued to show their support to the Russian, who has seen his assets frozen by the UK government
Chelsea supporters once again showed their support to sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich during a 3-1 win at Norwich, with technology minister Chris Philp urging Blues followers to reconsider their actions given the “barbaric acts” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The UK government is taking decisive action against those that boast ties to a regime in Eastern Europe that has invaded neighbouring Ukraine and generated widespread condemnation.
Abramovich is being prevented from making any money out of his British enterprises as a result of the restrictions being imposed – with talk of a sale at Stamford Bridge being put on hold – but those that have seen their club win 21 trophies during his reign in west London continue to back the billionaire’s cause.
Chelsea fans have taken to chanting Abramovich’s name before Premier League fixtures, despite the 55-year-old being linked to Putin while also trying to find a buyer, and those indulging in such actions are being asked to reassess their behaviour.
Philp told BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme: “I’m a football fan myself, I’m a [Crystal] Palace fan, in south London. So I understand why fans are very attached to their football clubs.
“But Roman Abramovich is someone who has been sanctioned now, yesterday morning, for his very close links to Vladimir Putin and the Putin regime.
“And I just say respectfully to the Chelsea fans, I know he’s done a lot for the club, but the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and what the Russian regime are doing to civilians – shelling maternity hospitals and shooting civilians who are fleeing down humanitarian corridors – and that is more important than football.
“And I say that as a football fan myself, and I would just ask them to keep that in mind.”
He added when pressed further on the Abramovich saga, which has led to Chelsea being unable to sell match tickets while also closing their club shop and losing a deal with shirt sponsors Three: “I understand why Chelsea fans have some affection for him but, when the regime he is associated with is committing atrocities, that is more important than football.
“So I would ask them to think very carefully before doing that [chanting] again because the barbaric acts of the Putin regime which Abramovich has supported is far more important than football.”
Chelsea can be sold, as long as Roman Abramovich or the Russian Federation doesnt benefit from the sale.Chelsea are in dialogue with the UK government discussing what to do next. pic.twitter.com/3upNw3pQeS
Chelsea, who remain in the hunt for a top-four finish alongside bids for Champions League and FA Cup glory this season, are due to be back in Premier League action on Sunday.
Newcastle are next on the agenda for the Blues, in what will be a first home outing for the club since Abramovich saw his assets frozen.
Chelsea have at least four more outings at Stamford Bridge to come after that, with the club being informed that there are ways in which ticketing restrictions can be lifted if they apply for the right licences and can prove that Abramovich stands to benefit in no way.