By The Arsenal Speculator
You will of course have heard about Mr Abramovich and his trouble with getting a visa which would allow him to live in England. The general consensus seems to be for the moment that this could be part of a broader process of checking by UK banks to see if they have got any illegal immigrants on their books.
The problem is that when the 2016 Immigration Act came before Parliament a number of people ranging from MPs, to those working in immigration and on to the banks, all said that the new process could end up being wrapped up in errors and long delays.
There are significant fines and even penalties of imprisonment for any organisation that allows an illegal immigrant to be a customer, and so the banks etc now have to err on the side of caution – and have been doing so since January this year, taking longer and longer to check each non-EU citizen to see if he or she has been up to no good.
If anyone is suspected of being an illegal immigrant then the financial institution has to tell the Home Office, which can then freeze all the bank accounts of the individual concerned – until such time as he or she gets matters sorted. The temptation on the banks to tip off their customer first must be quite large.
The Home Office has said it is being very kindly in this regard, ensuring that anyone who does have their bank account frozen can access it for basic living expenses. So if this is what is happening to Mr Abramovich then we need not worry too much – he will be ok for a daily sandwich and cappuccino.
Now of course Untold has no particular insight into this matter, but just for the sake of passing the time of day, we began to wonder if this issue had any link to Mr Abramovich’s issues concerning the renewal of the Chelsea ground.
At one stage it was suggested that last season Chelsea would start work on the ground, with the team playing elsewhere. Then Tottenham popped along and rented Wembley, and no more was heard.
In March 2017 the popular press suggested an opening date of August 2021. In November that year the event was put back until 2024 – at the earliest with work on Stamford Bridge starting in the autumn of this year. But that clearly isn’t on. In January 2018 the Telegraph told us everything was in place for work to start – but again there was no movement.
And there is no sign of a deal with Wembley for next season or the season after for Chelsea home games to be played there.
But, and remember this is all the utmost speculation, Fulham’s owner has put in a bid to buy Wembley. Supposing that deal goes through and then the owner decides to plough loadsofmoney into Fulham, and take them to Wembley, making it their permanent home.
Now that might sound preposterous, but it was pretty much how Chelsea themselves started in 1905 – they got hold of the stadium, applied to join the Southern League, and had their application blocked by Tottenham on the grounds that there were already too many London clubs in the Southern League.
You might recall that Tottenham attempted to block Arsenal’s move to north London in 1913 (even though, as Henry Norris expected, the move would increase the home crowds of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Clapton Orient). And just as they were ultimately to lose out in 1913 so Tottenham didn’t get what they wanted ein 1905 as Chelsea were granted a place in the Football League, even though they had no staff, no players and just a ground.
If Wembley is not available whenever Chelsea want to move, the club could of course go elsewhere for three years to five years. Twickenham has been mentioned, and indeed so was West Ham’s state aided stadium. And West Ham could certainly do with a tenant to for even though they are paying only a very modest rent, they don’t seem to have a huge amount of money to spend on players. Or maybe simply they don’t have the money to spend on the right players.
In fact West Ham are currently about £100m in debt – a debt that by and large has to be repaid in 2020. So Chelsea as a tenant for three years could be helpful.
Where it goes, I have no idea, but we shall see.
- Total control and total dominance can work, but in the end innovation in football suffers
- The Football Reality: Seeing alternative possibilities always makes more sense.
- FA Cup final leaves Arsenal top of the list, but raises an intriguing question