‘Former Chelsea boss Abramovich secretly financed Vitesse’
Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich may have secretly financed soccer club Vitesse, reports The Guardian. He allegedly funded the club between 2010 and 2016 during the time he also owned Chelsea, something that is prohibited due to conflicts of interest.
In 2010, the Russian oligarch allegedly transferred at least 117 million euros to finance Merab Jordania’s takeover of the Arnhem club in 2010.
Vitesse said in an initial response that the information on which the article is based was never known to the club. “The club has always fully cooperated with the investigations initiated by the KNVB, which also did not reveal any illegalities,” Vitesse said.
Since the 2010 takeover of Vitesse by Georgian former footballer Jordania, a smokescreen has been erected over the ownership structure at the Arnheimers.
The KNVB conducted an initial investigation into the funding streams in 2010. Vitesse was called a “plaything” of Chelsea by several stakeholders even before 2010. Every year, the Arnhem club took care of a handful of players who fell by the wayside in London.
Marco van Ginkel was sold to Chelsea, although he might have fetched more elsewhere. Vitesse’s technical staff was in regular contact with colleagues from London.
However, the KNVB found no evidence of direct involvement by Abramovich at either Vitesse or Chelsea and gave permission for the takeover.
In October 2013, Jordania sold Vitesse to Russian billionaire Alexander Chigirinsky.
And then came a striking statement from former owner Jordania. The year after the sale, he claimed that interference from London went so far as to prevent the Arnhemmers from becoming champions. After all, any championship would allow Vitesse to come out against Chelsea in the Champions League and that would be against UEFA rules.
Ted van Leeuwen, who served as technical director during Jordania’s time, also confirmed that Chelsea were pulling the strings in Arnhem. “Whether that was explicitly stated that way, I very much doubt it. But Fred Rutten and I did get the feeling that it was,” he told NOS at the time.
In 2014, the KNVB launched a new investigation. This was in response to a publication in Voetbal International, which showed on the basis of leaked emails that Chelsea had the decisive word in the takeover of the premier league club in 2010. The article showed how the KNVB was misled.
However, the new investigation revealed that there were no financial ties between the club and Abramovich. Nor would there be any footballing influence on Vitesse. Both Vitesse and Chelsea again denied that the Russian was involved in financing the premier league club.
In 2022, Abramovich had to renounce Chelsea because of sanctions against Russian oligarchs due to the war in Ukraine. Abramovich was said to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And now there is new information from the “Oligarch files”: leaked data from service provider MeritServus in Cyprus. From these, for the first time, at least 117 million euros in secret funding from Abramovich for the acquisition of Vitesse via offshore tax havens appears to be revealed.
In addition to The Guardian, the British Bureau of Investigative Journalism also accessed the documents.