Why is the Chelsea owner being treated differently from other Russian oligarchs?

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?

20 Replies to “Why is the Chelsea owner being treated differently from other Russian oligarchs?”

  1. It will be interesting to see how or rother if Chelsea players will protest at the start of the game today alongside the Liverpool players. If they dont then they are under the foot of the russian tirant putin (dont care to have his name with a high letter he does not deserve that).

  2. ”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.”

    Well understood by Putin, who made the deliberate aim of extending Russian state influence through football twenty-odd years ago. He knew damn well all the links on the FIFA chain would embrace any venture that made themselves shine like gold. None shone as bright as the English Premier League.
    The EPL did not give two flying fucks how much of England was corrupted.

    As for Abramovich, lawyered up everywhere he turns, how can the UK government touch him? The courts have been hollowed out. Putin has been allowed to murder his enemies in England, England did nothing. If the guy he handpicked to carry out the Russian state strategy in London can’t waltz down the street untouched, another dozen cronies are there to be wheeled into public view to take the rap first.

  3. Another good post Tony.

    Abramovich is lawyered up. The EPL would make itself the centre of the global mystique, football twenty-four hours a day. Putin twenty-odd years ago had his strategy in place. The Russian state could use football, Abramovich with a choice of clubs to buy. He buys Chelsea, fancy that! What a surprise! Then they buy Knightsbridge! Then Putin murders his enemies in England and nothing happens.

  4. Que Mike T popping in to tell us how we’ve got Mr Abramovic all wrong.

    I’m sure we’ll hear how in reality he’s not the dodgy Oligarch in bed with the Russian leadership he appears to be, but is in fact quite the opposite, being as he’s actually a registered charity (or at least he is now) who’s only interested is for the benefit of all, as opposed to the benefit of the one, which some of us had mistakenly believed.

    It should be hilarious.

  5. Half time West Ham -Wolverhampton

    Interesting stat

    At half-time : 0-0

    Shots on Wolves goal : 6 off-target, 2 on target
    Shots on West Ham goal : 3 off target

    West Ham possession : 52 %

    Compare this to the Arsenal games stats

    Shots on Wolves goal : 21 off target, 5 on target
    Shots on Arsenal goal : 4 off target, 2 on target

    Arsenal possession : 56 %

    Then think about what it means in terms of the quality of the repective teams.

  6. Amazing, if an Arsenal player had caught an opponent in the groin with a raised foot there is no doubt in my mind that he would have been sent off. And, the commentators would not be saying things like “it’s hard control your foot in a challenge like that” ” It’s a 50/50 thing for me” Liverpool…Keita…lucky? or benificiary of…something.

    Different courses for different horses, I guess.

    Funny ‘ol game…

  7. Off topic , referee in Caraboa cup final totally bottling it on most major decisions , lucky Arsenal aren’t playing

  8. GGG

    Said exactly the same.

    Definitely would of been a card of one sort or another and probably a VAR recommendation to have a look.

    Plus of course as you say, the commentators see absolutely nothing in it. If it had been one of our boys they’d still be kicking up a stink tomorrow !

  9. I’m finding myself torn watching this final. I don’t like either club obviously

    For what its worth its been a great match. These are two fine teams to watch.

    But, I find myself hoping that they go down to 6 players each with consequent suspensions and the game ending after 50 or 60 kicks.

  10. GoingGoingGooner

    “For what its worth its been a great match. These are two fine teams to watch.”

    I know what you mean. For all the barracking a good team is a good team and a good match is a good match. And despite being nil nil it’s been a good watch.

    It’s been an odd game because as far as I’m concerned Liverpool have been easily the better team but over all Chelsea have had the better chances.

    As for the disallowed goal. Does this now mean every goal that’s scored from a set piece we have to check for a block or hold in the box ? If we do I cant see many goals being allowed to stand.

    Either way, for what it’s worth I just don’t enjoy watching Chelsea.

  11. Chelsea in another pitch brawl.

    Lets hope it’s 3 months after the last one aye Mike T, then everything’s alright !!

    Nice to hear the commentators fob it off as ‘nothing to see here’ again.

  12. From the BBC – “Russia told not to compete under national flag”

    It’s like telling somebody shopping at Tesco not to use a Sainsbury’s carrier bag.

  13. Abramovich delivers a statement of transfer without any legal basis whatsoever. It sounds nice. Thrown in ”stewardship” ”charity” sounds even better.

    In one room a guy buys a Knightsbridge property for a £100 million, in another room the same guy cobbles a few lines together with a lawyer.

    Imagine going through the English Premier League’s Due Diligence process as a prospective Premiership Club owner.

    All the books coming in the next few month detailing how the English became the ‘butlers’ for the world servicing dirty money. The cover for all of it – football. The EPL. The TV screen. The strutting refs. The bookies. The bar. The backslapping. The footballification of culture.

  14. I’m quoting a piece from the New York Times.

    “The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, a sleek showcase of a Westward-looking Russia founded by the Kremlin-friendly oligarch Roman Abramovich, declared it would cease working on new exhibits until the “human and political tragedy” ceased in Ukraine.”

    So there you have russian employees of Mr Abramovich, living in Moscow, in their personal way, visibly resisting and, if you ask me, putting their livelyhoods at risk for Ukraine.

    Maybe Chelsea players and staff will wafe blue and yellow flags around for the next games as an act of resistance ?!?!?
    This is f…g disgusting. I have my doubts that people in western Europe and England would put up half the fight and tenth of the courage ukranians are demonstrating. They’d be much too busy protesting against Covid restrictions, going to the pub and clubs and watching sports on TV.

    Goverments would take the first flight out to some island in the sun to begin with anyway which would settle the issue. I really admire Zelensky for staying in harm’s way and being an example. His agressor is unkering donw in some bunker far far away. Very courageous, right ?

  15. The football we grew up with came out of 1939-1945. Reg Weston played for Derby County, then he became the manager of Burton Albion, then he had the Post Office halfway down the hill. Walking to school I called in every morning to talk about football. All that went years ago.

    1939-1945 went years ago too. I used to joke that the country which endured the Blitz now sat on the sofa and watched East Enders. No longer. That old truth – when fascists come you have to stand and fight – is Ukraine. People suddenly remember who we are.

    Abramovich owns two yatchs. My Solaris is 140m in length. His second yatch Eclipse is 162.5m in length. Try walking those lengths out.

  16. Putin has wealth beyond measurement. His mate Abramovitch has two Super Yachts to chose from and sail the Mediterranean sunset. The old Russia never had a warm water Mediterranean port, Abramovich parks the spare yacht up in Barcelona Harbour.

    He is also owed £1.3 billion from Chelsea football club which he owns. With the economic sanctions coming in tomorrow the rouble will hit the ground.

    The Ukrainians are prepared to fight and die. Zelensky is prepared to fight and die. Putin, like you say Chris, is hunkered down in his bunker. His mate Abramovitch is somewhere sailing the
    Mediterranean thinking about his debt.

    On the other side of memory is the EPL. Football. A bubble we created. CNN are reporting 6,000 Russians have been jailed in 72 hours for protesting the war.

    You think it through and you realise the bubble we created burst when Putin went in and what came out was the poison, the cowardice, the toxic pomposity of the EPL, the irrelevance of the EPL when compared with someone prepared to die to defend their country, their community, their right to make their own democratic choice, to defeat fascism, to fight and die alongside people they can believe it, and out of all that you watch the fumes of the EPL disappear. Football for the people by the people. Things have changed.

  17. England has always been a “safe haven” for crooks, criminals and murderers. “My very good friend” General Pinochet immediately springs to mind.

  18. ”General Pinochet,” ”Swamped by an alien culture.”

    1950s ”No Blacks”
    ” No Irish”
    ” No Dogs.”

    1960s ”Rivers of Blood”

    1970s Rock Against Racism”

    We could break it down into months, weeks, year by year. Racism. Injustice. Resistance.

  19. Nitram.

    I have no intention of defending or even attempting to defend Abromavich. It would both be wrong and churlish to do so

    The whole mentality and indeed actions taken by Putin is wrong and of course it is difficult to see any separation between Putin and RA yet unlike Usmanov there hasn’t as yet been any action taken against RA either in the UK or indeed by either the EU or indeed the US

    So why is that ?

    Tony mentions the Israeli passport and yes that was granted as a consequence of him being a Jew and whilst that gave him the right to access the UK on a visitor / tourist passport it was the issue of the Portuguese passport again by virtue of his heritage that to a large degree from what I read at the time was said to be a massive spanner in the works.

    I can’t immediately put my finger on the article that at the time was talking about other Russian s who were buying Cypriot passports but there was a quote from the FO who was pointing out that individuals who were granted EU passports would complicate matters massively when it came to freedom of movement in particular and ,like any other EU citizen, because that’s what they are, would be on the issue if a visa be able to both reside and work in the UK.

    RA does operate differently to many Oligarchs. The evidence and not just my opinion tells us that. A little research will indicate why that is said.
    Some will understandably say his donations to the state he was governor were forced on him and of course they may well be right. There are other examples of him being a benefactor of charity and indeed his actions during the pandemic and again it’s easy to dismiss or see them as being no more than an attempt to gain political capital

    But I can’t get past the Portuguese passport .

    The Portuguese government opened an investigation in December into the passport being issued and it was reported at the time that the outcome would be released in February. It’s now March.

    The ownership model of Chelsea, and come to that most PL clubs , is a complex matter. The structure is designed to comply with PL rules yet ultimately the is a trail to an individual. CFC is debt free, that’s a fact,
    The holding company hold 100% of the shares in the trading football club the number of shares issued by the football club grows as debt is turned into equity.
    The holding company is in turn owned by another Company Fordstam who control 100% of the shares in the holding company.

    Ironically RA would have been granted a EU passport, had he applied for one, as his Grandfather and father were born and forcibly resettled from Lithuania

    As for the CC final, well it surprised me the Liverpool goal was disallowed but Van Dyke became active by interfering with James, he was in an offside position . Had he blocked James whilst on side the goal would have been allowed.

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