- Abramovich reportedly invested £103m
- Funded 2010 takeover & subsequent spending
- All while owning Chelsea
WHAT HAPPENED? That's according to exclusive information from The Guardian, which write that Abramovich played a key part in funding the Vitesse takeover of 2010, which was headed by former Georgia international Merab Jordania. The findings, which stem from a cache of leaked data known as the Oligarch files, appear to show that the secret backing flowed through several entities registered in offshore tax havens.
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THE BIGGER PICTURE: The Guardian notes that Vitesse had already been on the radar of the Netherlands football association over their alleged relationship with Abramovich. Jordania was a reported friend of the oligarch, and was succeeded by his associate and Russian businessman Alexander Chigirinsky. Vitesse also became a "partner club" to Chelsea and took in many of their loanees from 2010 onwards, with Nemanja Matic and Mason Mount - as recently as 2017-18 - two standout examples.
AND WHAT'S MORE: However, the offshore havens utilised by Abramovich were, The Guardian writes, so opaque as to evade Dutch authorities on two occasions. Now, it has come to light that his alleged bankrolling while owning Chelsea not only covered Vitesse's 2010 takeover, but also their spending that followed. The report adds that the Dutch outfit's total turnover by 2014-15 was €14m (£12.3m/$15.2m), a significant amount for a club of their stature.
WHAT THEY SAID: "On Wednesday afternoon, the British newspaper The Guardian came out with a publication claiming that Vitesse was indirectly funded by companies owned by Mr. Abramovich, the then owner of Chelsea, in the period between 2010 and 2016," the club responded in a statement. "Vitesse stresses that the information on which the article is based was never known to the club. The club has always cooperated fully with the investigations launched by the KNVB, which also did not reveal any illegalities.
"Vitesse received share premium payments from the holding company above the club during the said period, which is also evident from all published annual reports. This holding company was, as The Guardian writes, financed by Marindale Trading Limited. Mr. Chigirinskiy is the (sole) beneficial owner of Marindale Trading Limited, which is evident from the official documents that have been part of the investigations. Vitesse had no knowledge of how this company was financed. Nor did Vitesse itself have any loan agreements."
THEY ADDED: "The KNVB and other experts have investigated the situation at Vitesse broadly and thoroughly on several occasions; first the structure surrounding the takeover (2010), then the accuracy and completeness of the legal structures and financing structure presented by Vitesse (2015)," continued Vitesse. "At all times, Vitesse gave the investigators full access to all relevant documents in its possession. Both investigations did not reveal any facts in violation of KNVB and UEFA rules (see this article).
"It was concluded at the time that Vitesse had always correctly and fully informed parties about the club's ownership and legal structure, that Vitesse's legal structure was in line with KNVB regulations and that no third party had control of the club. This is also confirmed in The Guardian by a representative of Chelsea."
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WHAT NEXT? The ramifications are unknown as yet, although UEFA laws stipulate that European clubs must be independently owned and run "to ensure the integrity of the competitions", meaning any financing from Abramovich while owning Chelsea could be penalised.