UEFA has confirmed it will verify PFC CSKA Moskva's links with Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich after the two clubs were drawn together in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson said today: "UEFA's legal department will be perfoming a check regarding this case as part of the routine procedure we have at the start of every club competition season. The integrity of the ownership of the clubs concerned will be verified in the coming days as per the competition rules."
The European Union's competition laws and UEFA's own competition rules forbid an individual owning a major share of two clubs in the same tournament. However, there are no laws limiting the amount that an individual can sponsor another club.
Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea since last summer, has close links with CSKA. In March, the Russian champions signed a €45m three-year sponsorship deal with the Russian oil company Sibneft, of which Abramovich is the former owner and still the major shareholder. In the unlikely event of Abramovich being discovered to have a controlling interest in CSKA, Olsson confirmed that one of the two clubs would have to withdraw from the competition. "They could not both play," said the UEFA CEO.
Group H rivals
Abramovich watched CSKA's third qualifying round match against Rangers FC in Glasgow on Wednesday night. Chelsea and CSKA were both placed in Group H in yesterday's draw for the group stage in Monaco and will meet in London on 20 October and then in Moscow on 2 November.