The Abramovich Story

Posted by on Jul 01, 2013 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Ten years ago today an unknown Russian billionaire entered The Bridge. At the time of his arrival not even the most optimistic of Chelsea supporters could have imagined the impact he has had – not only on our club but on world football. Abramovich – as we all know – spent millions and would only be settled when Chelsea was challenging domestically and in Europe. The last ten years – the Abramovich era – has changed the history of Chelsea Football Club. In the past decade the club has won thirteen trophies – all of which are listed below:

2004/05- Premier League, League Cup
2005/06- Premier League, Community Shield
2006/07- FA Cup, League Cup
2008/09- FA Cup
2009/10- Premier League, FA Cup, Community Shield
2011/12- Champions League, FA Cup
2012/13- Europa League

Early Life

Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich was born on October 24, 1966 in Saratov,  Russia. His Jewish parents Irina and Arkady died before he was four and he was raised by his grandparents (or his Uncle, depending on which story you read). He was raised in the region of Komi, which during the winter has prolonged periods of darkness in winter.

After dropping out of two colleges, Roman served in the army and according to Nikolai Panteleimonov, Abramovich’s former army friend, Roman showed his shrewd business mind at an early age: “(Roman) was just 20 at the time. And he was head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to entrepreneurship. He could make money out of thin air. A soldier’s monthly allowance was 7 rubles back then. It’s not enough if you have a sweet tooth or a date you want to take to the movies during leave. Roman came up with a scheme: he managed to talk the drivers into siphoning some fuel off their vehicles. The containers full of fuel would be dropped in a location that has been agreed in advance. Abramovich didn’t siphon off gas himself – he only gave instructions to the guys,”

There are many different stories on his route to becoming the billionaire he is today, including a plastic toys business to selling rubber ducks from his home in Moscow. It is reported that Abramovich founded and then liquidated at least 20 companies in the 1990s.

In 1995, Roman and Boris Berezovsky acquired controlling stakes in oil company Sibneft in which they made billions.

 Abramovich & Berezovsky

The relationship between the two proved to be fruitful in the acquisition of Sibneft, but it turned sour and resulted  in  the biggest private litigation battle in history, when Berezovsky claimed that Abramovich cheated him out of more than $5bn (£3.2bn). The dispute came from when both made their fortunes in the giant oil company Sibneft, where according to Berezovsky Abramovich later forced him to sell his interest in the company at a “gross undervalue”, exploiting Berezovsky’s falling-out in 2000 with Vladimir Putin. Abramovich disputed this saying he hired Berezovsky as a top-level Kremlin fixer and consultant because of his connections with Russia’s then president Boris Yeltsin, and in return paid for Berezovsky’s lavish lifestyle, paying him “more than $2.5bn”, and buying him yachts, planes and huge estate in France.

When the case got to court, both men gave evidence and Abramovich won the claim, with the judge saying:  “On my analysis of the entirety of the evidence, I found Mr Berezovsky an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes.” She also said she found Mr Abramovich “to be a truthful, and on the whole reliable, witness”.

On 23 March 2013, Berezovsky was found dead at his home. His body was found by a bodyguard in a locked bathroom, with a ligature around his neck. His death was announced in a post on Facebook by his son-in-law. Alexander Dobrovinsky, a lawyer who had represented Berezovsky, wrote that he may have committed suicide, adding that Berezovsky had fallen into debt after losing the lawsuit against Abramovich, and had spent the final few months of his life selling his possessions to cover his court costs. Berezovsky was also said to have recently been depressed and to have isolated himself from friends. He reportedly suffered from depression and was taking antidepressant drugs; a day prior to his death he told a reporter in London that he had nothing left to live for.

It was wrongly reported by Russian media that Abramovich had been arrested by the FBI over the “suspicious” death of Berezovsky, and British police have since confirmed Berezovsky died from hanging, and there was nothing pointing to a violent struggle.

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