Chelsea fan says buying last shirt before sanctions shut club shop was ‘surreal’

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A man who bought the last Chelsea shirt at the Stamford Bridge club shop before it closed due to sanctions said it was a “surreal moment”.

The Government on Thursday announced it is sanctioning Chelsea owner, Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, amid his alleged ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, which he has strongly denied.

Martyn Hardiman, 29, from Guildford, was with his two-year-old son, Peter, when staff shut the merchandise shop following the news.

“We went up, got the shirt, and it turned out to be the last shirt sale of the current era, apparently.

“It was a surreal moment but a cool bit of history and his grandad will be chuffed to bits, so that’s pretty cool.”

Fans outside the stadium said they were “nervous” and “concerned” about the sanctions, which also banned future ticket sales, though most were not worried about the club’s long-term future.

Fan of 17 years, Kai Chapman, 19, from Nottingham, said: “I’m quite gutted, really. We could see it coming but as a fan base and a club in general we’ll have to move on.

A man passes a match sold out sign at Chelsea football club’s Stamford Bridge stadium on Thursday March 10 2022
A man passes a match sold out sign at Chelsea football club’s Stamford Bridge stadium on Thursday March 10 2022 (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Although he described the sanctions as a “bit concerning right now”, he added: “Chelsea was here before Abramovich came in and it will still be here after he leaves.”

Clive Winter, 61, from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, who has been a Chelsea fan for 55 years, said: “Let me put on record first: the war is horrendous, absolutely shocking, I’ve got no justification for it whatsoever.

“In the football business this has been coming for a while anyway – the actual sanction – but again, he’s done so much for the club and for charities in this country and all over the world.

“He’s a Chelsea fan and 20 years have gone past and nothing’s been actioned. Surely if there were links or alleged links, something should have happened in the last 20 years rather than leaving it until now.”

Syahmi Anuar, 20, who had travelled to London from Malaysia to see the ground, said he was “very disappointed”.

He said: “I’m very worried about the future of the club because I’m a lifelong fan.

“I have supported Chelsea since I was a little boy. I spent £2,000 just to get here. Once a blue, always a blue.”

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