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LONDON: Britain’s government said on Thursday it would enable soccer club Chelsea to continue playing matches after it imposed sanctions on its owner, Roman Abramovich, halting his plan to sell the English Premier League side.

Abramovich had put the club up for sale, but Britain’s asset freeze and sanctions on him bar that process under the terms of the licence granted to the club.

Nadine Dorries, Britain’s minister for sport, said the government had issued a special licence to enable Chelsea to play fixtures, pay staff and enable ticket holders to attend matches, because it did not want to harm the reigning European and world soccer champions.

“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,” she said on Twitter.

“Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.”

The government said the licence would be kept under review.

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