As one of the single-most powerful people in English football, Roman Abramovich’s influence is massive. The Russian has been a key part of Chelsea developing from a cup team in the 1990s to a genuine English football juggernaut in the 2000s and beyond. However, given his nationality, Abramovich has often faced numerous claims regarding his background, his history, and who he keeps friends with. Typically, a highly private individual, though, claims and tattle is often ignored by man and club.
However, an explosive new book that has been released, Putin’s People, written by journalist Catherine Belton, makes some pretty extreme claims against the Chelsea owner. So much so that, in a length statement, he made clear that he would be contesting the numerous claims made against him. The Russian-Israeli has bit back at “false and defamatory” claims made against him.
Indeed, the book, which was published by HarperCollins in April 2020, even makes the claim that Abramovich bought Chelsea on the command of Putin himself. It also makes claims about how the purchase went through – something that Abramovich and Chelsea have bitten back against in a club statement.
What did Roman Abramovich say about the claims in Putin’s People?
Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea for nearly twenty years after finalising his purchase in 2003, said via a club statement that he had filed claims against HarperCollins as publisher and also against Belton. In the statement, Abramovich said: “’Today my legal representatives have issued legal proceedings in England in relation to a book that was published in the UK,
‘The book contains a number of false and defamatory statements about me, including about my purchase, and the activities, of Chelsea Football Club.”
He said that the legal action was “not taken lightly”, and added that his legal team had engaged with HarperCollins’ own lawyers in an attempt to find an “amicable resolution”, but this did not prove successful.
“The false allegations in this book are having a damaging effect, not only on my personal reputation, but also in respect of the activities of Chelsea Football Club. I have every belief the courts will give me a fair hearing, as they have in the past.”
The book was written with the backing of several sources, including Russians Boris Berezovsky, who died in 2013, and Surgei Pugachev. It is important to note that Berezovsky and Abramovich had previous, as the former accused the latter of forcing him to sell a stake in an oil company via threats once Putin was put in charge. Court rulings, though, suggested that Berezovsky was an “unimpressive and inherently unreliable witness” – and thus the proceedings were thrown out of court.
Indeed, part of the allegations within the book revolve around these same discredited disputes between the two Russians in the past. The claims were already defeated in UK High Court, hence why Abramovich and co. are keen to ensure they are not repeated any further.
More to come in the future as the case moves forward.