Roman Abramovich has owned Premier League club Chelsea since 2003

Roman Abramovich’s attempt to sell Chelsea has been halted after the oligarch was sanctioned by the UK government as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian put the European champions up for sale after the threat of sanctions was raised in Parliament.

The freezing of Abramovich’s assets, which include Chelsea, means the club cannot sell further match tickets.

The move is intended to stop Abramovich making money from Chelsea.

The government has issued a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket-holders to attend matches.

Season-ticket holders can still attend games for which they have tickets but the club cannot now sell any more tickets.

Chelsea will also be unable to buy or sell players while the sanctions are imposed on Abramovich.

The club’s merchandise shop will also be shut.

The government is open to considering a further addition to the special licence which will allow the sale of the club.

A condition for that to happen would be that Abramovich – one of Russia’s richest people who is believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin – receives no funds.

He has previously said that proceeds of the sale would be donated to victims of war.

On Wednesday, there were 20 credible interested parties looking at a potential Chelsea takeover. Among them was British businessman Nick Candy.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said the government is “committed to protecting” the club.

“Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities,” she tweeted. 

“I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended.

“Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account.”

The sanctions have been imposed on a day that both Chelsea’s men’s and women’s teams are in action, with the Blues travelling to Norwich in the Premier League while they are up against West Ham in the WSL.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has called for the government “to minimise the uncertainty” and to include fans “in any conversation regarding ongoing impacts”.