Ukraine charities could miss out on £2.3bn as Abramovich refuses to sign off on funds

Ukraine charities could miss out on £2.3bn as Abramovich refuses to sign off on funds

The £2.3billion proceeds from the sale of Chelsea more than a year ago may not reach victims of Russia's war on Ukraine this year, or perhaps at all.

It seems the sticking point is that Roman Abramovich wants a substantial chunk of the money to go to Russia, or rather Russians affected by the conflict. And neither the British government nor the European Commission will agree to such a move while sanctions are in place against Russia because of Vladimir Putin's aggression against Ukraine.

Astonishingly, it seems that Abramovich, himself a sanctioned individual for his closeness to the Putin regime, must 'sign off' on the release of the funds, which he has so far declined to do because he wants the money shared across Russia as well as Ukraine.

Foreign office sources have confirmed this is the case, and point to Secretary of State James Cleverly saying last week he could not guarantee the money would be cleared for release before the Government breaks for summer recess next month. Ministers return in September.

Cleverly said: 'We want to make sure that the money that is released goes exclusively to the recipients it is aimed at. I need full reassurance that is the case.'

A source close to the funds said: 'It was hoped the money was going to be transferred last summer, then we hoped for developments in January.

'Now we hope money will start arriving in Ukraine before harsh winter conditions set in again towards the end of the year, but there are currently no guarantees that will happen.'

Abramovich was forced to sell Chelsea last year, knowing he was to be sanctioned. American billionaire Todd Boehly paid £2.5bn for the club, and after transaction-related expenses, £2.3bn was left. At the time of the sale, Abramovich's press office said he 'wanted the proceeds to be transferred to a charitable foundation for the needs of the victims on both sides of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.'

The £2.3bn remains in a frozen UK bank account belonging to Fordstam, a company controlled by Abramovich, with the Foreign Office yet to give the green light for the money to be transferred.

Rules surrounding the release of the money allow for it to be transferred solely to Ukrainian humanitarian causes.

Cleverly told a parliamentary committee that a foundation set up to handle the billions was not ready to receive the funds. Sources close to the charity told Mail Sport they had been ready for several months.

England stars in talks on PR pay

Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson are leading talks with the PFA in a bid to have England players' commercial income from the FA managed by the union.

The FA, who renewed a long-term sponsorship deal with Mars last week, earned £91.3million in commercial revenues last year. The FA rely on England stars doing PR work to help promote the brands they work with.

The players share an annual pot worth £6m of the £91m, or 6.6 per cent, which translates as approximately £150,000 each from this source for established international players per year.

Sources close to the squad say their issue is not money, per se. Most England players earn £150,000 from their clubs in a week or three, or shorter. Rather they are concerned about an increase in the amount of time they are being asked to spend on commercial activities on behalf of the FA's partners.

England play North Macedonia tomorrow in a European Championship qualifier and it is hoped a deal with the PFA could be wrapped up before the Euros get under way next summer.

Heskey’s celebrity bar wound up over debts

A celebrity bar and restaurant funded by former England striker Emile Heskey, and run by his wife Chantelle in the footballers’ paradise of Alderley Edge, has been wound up by the courts with £163,000 debts.

New documents lodged at Companies House show that a winding-up order was served on May 30, spelling the end for the venue, called Parea, which was opened in 2018. It was closed earlier this year after a local catering company applied to have the company wound up over unpaid debts.

Parea was a regular haunt of footballers and TV stars, including Real Housewives of Cheshire regulars. It hit the headlines in 2019 when a first anniversary party featured sushi served on a semi-naked woman lying on a table, her modesty largely preserved by some leaves and salmon nibbles.

Long queue for season tickets in Manchester United and City tickets

Manchester United and Manchester City both have an astonishing 120,000 fans on their season ticket waiting lists. Elsewhere in England’s top division only Tottenham, with a waiting list of 98,000 fans, come anywhere close.

United recently appointed Populous, the master planners behind the new Wembley and Tottenham’s stadium, to consider options for an expansion of Old Trafford to increase the capacity beyond the current 74,000.

Officials have been informed the cost of rebuilding Old Trafford could cost £1bn, but they will certainly have no problems filling a bigger stadium it seems. Champions City recently submitted a planning application for a 7,000 capacity increase at the Etihad.

Clubs including Liverpool and Luton have closed their season ticket waiting lists.
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