Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was mistakenly told that Arsenal were ‘not for sale’ prior to buying the Blues.
Abramovich was forced into selling the West London club sanctioned by the UK government in March earlier this year for allegedly having ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Chelsea were desperate to secure a new owner amid a budget crisis, with their funds temporarily dictated by the British government.
A group led by US businessman Todd Boehly completed their takeover of the club following the conclusion of the 2021/22 campaign. It brought an end to Abramovich’s 19-year control of the club, a period in which they won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League crowns.
UK sanctions on the Russian oligarch were subsequently followed by the EU, which means that Abramovich’s assets that are in EU territory could be taken and frozen.
Russian billionaires have faced sanctions, frozen state assets and have been cut off much of the Russian corporate sector from the global economy as they attempt to force Russian President Putin to change course on his invasion on Ukraine.
It has now been revealed in new book The Club , penned by Wall Street Journal writers Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg, that Abramovich was mistakenly told in 2003 that Arsenal were ‘not for sale’ prior to his move to buy Chelsea.
It is claimed that Abramovich set the wheels in motion to buy a Premier League club by hiring Swiss bank UBS, whose analysis ‘categorically’ showed him that the Gunners would not be sold. That stance is contradicted in the book by former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein believed the North London club would have sold had they received an offer.
Abramovich wrote on the club’s website in March, confirming his intention of selling Chelsea: “As I have stated before, I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart. In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the Club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners.
“The sale of the Club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process. I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and Club.
“Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.
“This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.
“Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the Club.
“I hope that I will be able to visit Stamford Bridge one last time to say goodbye to all of you in person. It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart. Thank you, Roman.”