By Tony Attwood
Chelsea’s market value is currently being quoted at over two billion dollars, on the basis that an offer has apparently been made to buy the club for this amount. If that deal were to go through then the owner, would make a profit of around 500 million dollars, given that he has loaned the club $1.5 million, through the money he has put into the club over the years.
Quite a nifty profit in fact.
But this particular Russian seems to getting treatment that is rather different from that being dished out to other oligarchs. In practice, what this appears to mean is that instead of Russian assets in the UK being seized by the government they are instead being left so that the owner can recover his outlay, make a profit and then clear off to somewhere else with impunity. All while the notion of “seizing the assets” of wealthy Russians is being talked about.
It seems rather odd.
Of course we know that Abramovich has multiple nationalities beside being Russian – his Portuguese and Israeli passports are often mentioned, and obviously he may have picked up a few others along the way which he is keeping secret in case he suddenly needs to move on once again.
And Mr Abramovich doesn’t appear just to be a regular ordinary everyday Russian who happens to have a load of dosh. A Home Office document on Abramovich which was obtained by Chris Bryant MP shows Abramovich’s links to the Russian authorities, and his involvement in “corrupt activity and practices”.
But of course, for balance, we must also say, Mr Abramovich has denied such claims.
But whether he has been involved in corrupt activity in the past or not, is now irrelevant, since the UK government has said that it is taking on wealthy Russians who have been using the London financial centre as a way of protecting their wealth.
Except, it seems, for Mr Abramovich.
KPMG in their report, value Chelsea as being worth $2.1 billion, and it has been noted by Bloomberg that the Chelsea have received at least one enquiry recently concerning the opportunity to buy the club.
If this is allowed to go through then Abramovich will make this huge personal profit and escape any thought of sanctions or anything else. What’s more the message will go out that England really is a safe haven for allies of countries whose governments we find repugnant, who wish to invest money and make a mega-profit as they go along. Moving on with impunity when things get hot, is now seemingly part of the deal.
When millions of people in the UK are in or entering fuel poverty it really does seem an extraordinary way to behave.
Of course under traditional British law, Abramovich is innocent until proven guilty, except that quite rightly the state often takes action against people who are awaiting trial, holding them in prison until the trial starts. The equivalent in Abraomich’s case would be the seizure of his assets – including Chelsea.
This of course wouldn’t do any harm to Chelsea – they can carry on playing and using the money in their bank accounts for transfers, and indeed borrowing money if they feel that is what they need to do. In this way they become like any other club. The only person harmed is Abramovich.
Then if the seizure is confirmed the state can sell the club to someone else, and the state, which ultimately and to a tiny degree, means that UK residents get a bit of benefit.
So why is the state not acting? Is Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, and a well-know Chelsea supporter, engaged in the debate perhaps? I’ve no evidence of this, but it would be unfortunate if he is involved in sorting out the Abramovich affair.
These are high-flying days for Chelsea on the pitch, and they are undefeated in their last 19 first team games in all competitions. They are also part of the mystique of the Premier League that is sold across the world by the League itself and the TV stations that carry the games.
But really, is that a justification for treating the Chelsea owner in a way that is different from everyone else?
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