The Real Reason Roman Abramovich Bought Chelsea?


no one seemed to know who Roman

arkadievich Abramovich was when it was

announced that the Russian billionaire

had bought Chelsea FC in 2003 he was

young publicity shy a governor of a

faraway frozen province in Russia and

had made a lot of money in oil and gas

he gave one interview to the BBC saying

that he had wanted to buy a football

club essentially because he was bald and

wanted a new challenge Chelsea wasn't

his first choice vinnitsa he V the

Israeli super agent and fixer had

offered a number of options Portsmouth

FC was mentioned as was Manchester

United but Chelsea offered something

attractive for one the club was in

London which Abramovich had made his

second home amongst the wealthy Russian

elite Chelsea was also in dire financial

straits Ken Bates had dragged the club

into the modern era after buying Chelsea

for one pound in the early 1980s but by

2003 the club had a huge amount of debt

and was struggling to meet a 23 million

dollar interest payment enter Abramovich

who according to then Chelsea CEO Trevor

birch concluded the deal in just 15


Abramovich came from humble beginnings

he was born in 1966 in Saratov on the

Volga River into a Jewish family but he

would be an orphan at five and was

brought up by an uncle then his

grandmother in Moscow he studied highway

engineering although no evidence exists

that he graduated and entered the army

for his national service when he came

out in 1986 the world was changing

Mikhail Gorbachev was now trying to

reform a creaking Soviet state

introducing the concepts of glasnost

openness and perestroika economic and

political restructuring Abramovich

seized the opportunity and started a

series of businesses some successful

some not one involved the trade in toys

especially rubber ducks out of an

apartment he shared with his first wife

in Moscow it brought him a handsome

income compared with others in the

Soviet Union

the collapse of the Soviet Union

presented ambitious men with greater

more controversial opportunities the

exact nature of Abramovich is early

fortune is unclear but what is known is

that he soon moved into trading in oil

arguably Russia's greatest natural asset

in the chaotic post-communist years that

industry was fraught with danger but the

rewards for those that navigated it were

huge by 1993 Abramovich was considered

of sufficient interest and wealth to be

invited to a meeting on a yacht in the

Caribbean featuring some of the leading

businessman to profit from the

post-soviet era there he met Boris

Berezovsky a mathematical genius who had

made a fortune in trading in Soviet made

cars the two became partners and agreed

on that fateful day to try and

rationalize the oil industry through

vertical integration essentially

grouping different companies involved in

extracting and refining oil under one

umbrella company which they would

control this was realized thanks to the

now infamous loans-for-shares program

Boris Yeltsin was elected Russia's first

post communist president in part for his

role in ending a coup in 1991 he

embarked on a series of painful

free-market reforms by 1996 his

reelection campaign up against the

Communist Gennady Zyuganov

was in the balance he needed money and

good press so he struck a deal with

Russia's newly enriched oligarchs they

would ensure his election and in return

would be given first dibs on the

privatization of state assets with the

Utzon's campaign coffers swelled and

wall-to-wall positive coverage in media

controlled by his oligarchs Yeltsin won

the election subsequently Russia's most

valuable state assets were sold at a

fraction of the market price after

yeltsin's reelection bela zovsky and

Abramovich bought Sydnor for 100 million

dollars it's thought that its true worth

was close to 3 billion it made them

billionaires at a time when most Russian

citizens were struggling to put food on

the table

under Yeltsin the oligarchs wielded

extraordinary power and became despised

in Russia for their greed and

exploitation but by the end of the 90s

Yeltsin was ill and struggling with

alcohol addiction he was forced to step

down at a time where he was deeply

unpopular largely thanks to the 1998

financial crisis when the ruble

collapsed enter of Vladimir Putin a

former KGB man who had built a power

base in his native st. Petersburg and

was Yeltsin's chosen replacement fellows

offski as well as other yachts and

oligarchs like Mikhail Khodorkovsky who

bought Yukos oil and was Russia's

richest man had their own ambitions for

power or reform and didn't see Putin as

much of a threat but seeing the writing

on the wall Abramovich quickly aligned

himself with Putin who had promised that

he would smash the oligarchs and bring

their wealth back under state control

one by one their fortunes were taken

their assets seized by the state and the

oligarchs jailed usually on trumped-up

tax charges in 2003 Khodorkovsky was

arrested for tax evasion and fraud among

other challenges but not Abramovich

Putin demanded absolute loyalty if they

were to keep their fortunes including

abandoning any thoughts of political

power part of that according to

defectors and several investigations

involved paying a form of tribute

Abramovich and others allegedly

contributed millions of dollars to

projects close to Putin like investing

in a black sea palace that has been

dubbed Putin's palace and to buy a

state-of-the-art yacht for Putin called

Olympia Abramovich has always denied

this when the bbc's panorama made the

allegations again in 2016

his lawyers dismissed them as a rehash

of speculation and rumor one man who did

talk was Boris Berezovsky who openly

said he refused to contribute thus

starting a split between him Abramovich

and Putin that would eventually lead to

Berta Tov skis exile in London many of

those details came from the single

biggest civil litigation in British

legal history the 2012 but a tough ski


at Brown which case which made bear the

lengths both men had gone to to keep

their fortunes Burris offski alleged

that Abramovitch on the orders of Putin

had conspired to take away his fortune

and his ort television station which had

been especially critical of Putin

Abramovich vehemently denied this in the


Bellus offices claim for billions of

dollars from rama which failed the judge

finding that Berezovsky was an

unreliable witness but the case had laid

bare how business was done and fortunes

were kept masha jisun an experienced

russian journalist who covered the trial

for vanity fair' wrote in defending


Abramovich made an important admission

being an opposition to Putin was

dangerous to business and the people who

ran them and had been since the earliest

days of Putin's rule a year later

Berezovsky was dead by what appeared to

be suicide but the coroner's court left

an open verdict Abramovich has been a

key Putin ally he sold Sibneft in 2005

to gas prom for 13 point 1 billion

dollars making him one of the richest

men in the world he was the governor for

the remote province of Jakarta until

2008 and was a key figure in Russia's

successful 2010 bid to host the 2018

World Cup finals but it is for his

investment in Chelsea that he is best

known around the globe his carefree

attitude to spending including two

billion pound in his first ten years has

transformed the game terrifying other

top clubs who could not compete being a

millionaire was no longer enough only a

member of the billionaire's Club could

compete under his watch Chelsea has been

transformed into one of the biggest

clubs in the world since 2003 no English

club has won more silverware at the 2012

Champions League being the icing on the

cake Forbes estimates that Chelsea is

now the seventh most valuable club in

the world

above your Ventus AC Milan and Liverpool

and next they will move into a

state-of-the-art rebuilt stadium on the

site of

Stamford Bridge cementing his legacy and

adulation amongst Chelsea's fans

Abramovich his reasons for buying

Chelsea remain opaque given his

secretive nature and given the publicity

that buying a Premier League club was

bound to get him the given that

Abramovich has kept his fortune whilst

many of yeltsin's oligarchs have lost

theirs buying Chelsea perhaps made sense

football gave him a non-threatening

international profile and perhaps even

insurance against it all being taken