According to the Daily Mail, Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC has decided that he won’t sell the club to a person or group of people associated with any country that has sanctioned Russia or its oligarchs. As a result Abramovich has insisted he is going to decide to whom he sells the club.
Which has a few interesting implications, given what else has been happening of late.
What has also become clear in the weeks since Russia started to attack Ukraine is that an awfully large number of people have reached the conclusion that Roman Abramovich is also part of the inner group that surrounds the Russian President.
Abramovich however does own a multiplicity of yachts (one alone of which is valued at around about a billion dollars according to the New York Post) They have a jolly nice picture of it too.
And as you may have noticed Abramovich is still the owner of Chelsea. Now the problem with Chelsea is that while all the yacht commanders were told immediately to get out of the waters of any nation opposed to Russian imperialism, it is harder to do that with a football club. Some of the yachts are now in Turkey while some are sailing under the flag of Antigua, known to those who care about these things as “a Caribbean microstate”.
The government of Antigua doesn’t always quite know all the details, saying “We had no idea that the two yachts belonged to Roman Abramovich,” to a man from the Financial Times. The yachts however are registered to Wenham Overseas Limited. According to the FT “the economic owner of Wenham Overseas Limited is Roman Abramovich.”
Another boat worth about 11 million dollars is now anchored in the south of France and is registered in the name of a company whose official headquarters are on the Channel Island of Jersey – which is a Crown Dependency, which is somewhat embarrassing for Her Majesty.
“And what has this to do with football?” I hear you cry.
Well, given that there seems to be nothing that Mr Abramovich will stop short of to keep his billions in tact, surely it must have struck him by now that just as he can move his yachts around the globe to find nice places to hide, surely football clubs can be moved in the same way.
Why not take Chelsea FC and register it in Gibraltar, or Alderney or Andorra, or any other place where he feels he wants to take it?
Then he can play with it as he wants, for example by joining Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona in the European Super League.
Now if you have been paying attention you may know that Uefa stopped its legal proceedings against the three clubs remaining in the SuperLeague after a Madrid court ruled that Uefa could not legally sanction the rebel clubs.
Uefa, an organisation that does not always respect the rule of law, rejected the Spanish court order on the grounds that no one could tell it (Uefa) what to do, but since then has not tried its luck.
The Premier League had already imposed their own penalties on the clubs involved – and the clubs involved, including Arsenal, have gone no further even though the FA and Uefa had no legal right to fine the clubs. But they are all still waiting…
Uefa has now “filed a motion for the recusal of the judge presiding over the current proceedings as it believes there are significant irregularities in these proceedings” and “fully expects the judge in question to immediately stand aside pending the full and proper consideration of this motion.” But nothing is moving in that case.
The three clubs however, (with the clubs who joined and then left Super League looking on) are still expecting to go ahead at some stage.
Which is why the rumour has started that Abramovich and possibly other oligarchs are thinking of using Super League as a way of sports washing all this money of theirs which is no longer safe in European banks. The money will of course not be seen to be coming from Russians, but sending money round is circles is a doddle for people who consider $1m a spot of loose change.
If you see Super League re-emerging this might be the reason why.
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