Hopefully by now, we’ve all gotten over what happened Friday night; it’s never the end of the world losing novelty cup matches but the manner of that defeat was seriously depressing. I’d like to think what we witnessed was Chelsea getting a year’s worth of shitness out of their system in one go. Either way it’s a shame we were left wallowing and ranting melodramatically when we should’ve been merrily dancing over what happened earlier that day – as our owner Roman Abramovich won his court battle against exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, ending the biggest private litigation case in history.
The general gist of the situation: Boris claimed Roman had intimidated him into selling shares in Russian oil giant Gazprom Neft (formerly Sibneft) the company he assisted Roman in acquiring 15 years ago. Ultimately the London Commercial Court Judge, Mrs Justice Gloster, determined Mr Berezovsky to be an “inherently unreliable witness” whilst she regarded Abramovich “to be a truthful, and on the whole reliable, witness”.
Berezovsky told reporters afterwards: “I am absolutely amazed by what’s happened today… particularly because Lady Gloster took the responsibility to rewrite Russian history.” Also when asked if President Putin, for whom Abramovich remains a strong advocate and Berezovsky a harsh critic, would be happy with the ruling, he said “Sometimes I have the impression that Putin himself wrote this judgment.”
The case gave an interesting insight into how Abramovich made his billions. The court determined Abramovich never granted Berezovsky any actual share of the company he bought at a favoured price after lending financial support to then president, Boris Yeltsin. Instead he paid Berezovsky fortunes (including a final $1.3bn sum in 2001) for “krysha” (which is criminal slang for protection) which was “indispensable” to keeping his billions, in a country where, post communism, most ordinary people fell into poverty.
Russian politics aside, it’s difficult to measure the significance of this ruling for Chelsea FC. The perpetual generosity and commitment to the long term success of the club Abramovich has shown is beyond question. It was reported earlier this year the Russian has now invested more than £1bn into our football club. Those who suggested in the beginning Chelsea were Roman’s “play thing”, and that he’d quickly get bored and move on, have been emphatically proven wrong. Such heavy investment this summer even after winning the Champions League is hardly needed proof at this stage, Chelsea FC is Roman’s passion. I don’t care how rich you are, you don’t spend £1bn on anything unless it provides you with intense enjoyment/gratification.
I have next to no doubt Abramovich wouldn’t have even considered selling Chelsea if he’d lost his court case. If somehow he ever does end up in an uncomfortable financial situation, I doubt he’d ever make that much for selling the club and with such a massive increase in TV revenue deals imminent for the Premier League, it should be relatively straightforward for us to start breaking even in compliance with UEFA’s FFP rules, without altering our spending habits drastically.
The squad is in need of a few imperious performances after the international break, to restore some confidence in the fan base after such a flat and heartless display in Monaco. Tolerance and respect can be lost so quickly and so easily in football at this level. Roman Abramovich however, owes us nothing. All of the phenomenal achievements and fantastic nights we’ve enjoyed over the past 9 seasons are because of him. Every day we should thank God being a market trader and mechanic wasn’t enough for Roman and that he decided he’d be better off selling stolen oil instead. Long live Chelski!