Roman Abramovich was given misinformed advice about potentially buying Arsenal football club before the Russian billionaire ended up purchasing fellow London club Chelsea instead, according to a new book.
Abramovich bought Chelsea for £140 million in 2003 after reportedly considering several clubs in the UK capital.
According to a new book by two Wall St Journal writers, and cited in The Sun newspaper, recent English football history could have been very different had Abramovich not been wrongly informed that Arsenal were not a potential option.
The Russian businessman reportedly asked Swiss bank UBS to assess the financial aspects of the Premier League, with advice being that Arsenal were “categorically not for sale.”
However, the book claims that former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein said that owners would in fact have been prepared to sell to the Russian.
In the event, Abramovich bought Chelsea before plowing hundreds of millions into the club, helping them win five Premier League titles, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa Cup, among other titles.
The book, by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg and titled The Club: How the Premier League Became the Richest, Most Disruptive Business in Sport, also claims that Abramovich was put off the idea of a potential bid for Tottenham by the state of the local area.
“While his Mercedes trundled along Tottenham High Road, he looked out and said in Russian, This is worse than Omsk — the grim Siberian outpost where he had a refinery,” it reportedly says.
As for Arsenal, US businessman Stan Kroenke is now sole owner of the club, having bought out fellow shareholder Alisher Usmanov, a Russian billionaire, in a move last year which was met with anger by some fans.
Abramovich, meanwhile, has not been able to attend a Chelsea game in the Premier League this season after experiencing visa issues amid the fallout from the tensions between the UK and Russia over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.