The Russian oligarch’s sanctioning held a number of massive implications for Chelsea, which was allowed to continue playing under a special license but unable to buy or sell players, issue new contracts to existing players, sell new tickets to upcoming games or sell any club merchandise.
As rumors continue to swirl of prospective new owners, uncertainty reigns with supporters arriving at Stamford Bridge under the most unusual of pre-match circumstances.
On a stand in one corner of the ground, a banner featuring Abramovich’s face on the Russian flag with the words, “The Roman Empire,” remained visible throughout the match.
However, a display which had been planned for Abramovich by supporters group We Are the Shed did not go ahead.
One of the group’s founders, Richard Weekes, had told CNN last week that they were planning a display to be shown before kick-off, but ahead of the game, the group said they would be pausing any such plans while circumstances are “constantly changing.”
Ahead of kick-off, Chelsea technical performance advisor Petr Cech said that the club was taking it “day by day.”
“We hope the situation will be clearer soon,” Cech, former goalkeeper with the club, told Sky Sports.
“We hope people working for the club will be able to get their salaries. It’s a day-to-day situation … without answers, it is difficult to plan.
“We go day by day and we hope the new owner will come and want to continue the legacy on the pitch because we are a team that wants to win and do our best,” Cech added.
‘I’ll stick to the football’
The three-party consortium includes the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Its involvement in the takeover of Newcastle has been a long-running saga in English football, during which time Saudi Arabia’s human rights record — including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — has come under scrutiny.
A Saudi Arabia flag — as well as a Ukrainian flag — was visible in the Newcastle supporters’ away end.
Asked about the executions after the game, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe told reporters he would “stick to the football.”
“I’m still bitterly disappointed about the result,” Howe added.
Havertz, the controversial hero
Much of his disappointment stemmed from Havertz’s role as matchwinner, with Howe alleging that the German should not have been on the pitch to score his late decider.
Havertz was booked for an elbow on Newcastle defender Dan Burn during the first-half, with the video assistant referee (VAR) not deeming it serious enough to be a red card.
Having frustrated the hosts for the majority of the game, more perceived injustice followed for Newcastle in the second-half when Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah looked to have fouled Jacob Murphy in the box, yet no penalty was given.
“Dan [Burn] thinks it’s a clear red,” Howe told reporters. “It could’ve been given.
“The one I’m most disappointed with and don’t understand how it’s not been given is the penalty … Jacob Murphy’s had his shirt ripped off his back near enough.”
It is said that football is often a cruel mistress, and for Newcastle, she stayed true to script as Havertz — moments from the end of regulation time — plucked Jorginho’s superb pass out of the sky with a deft touch before poking past Magpies keeper Martin Dubravka.
Cue delirium at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea, despite all the noise, secured a fifth consecutive win in the Premier League.