The Ruble Giveth, The Ruble Taketh Away

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 108 months ago
The Ruble Giveth, The Ruble Taketh Away

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Image by Marty Nelson
News this week from the great city of Londongrad about two of our fine Russian friends with interests in the city of a footballing nature.

Firstly, Roman Abramovich, he of the perma-bemused boat race as he watches his team of misfits record another draw, has been hit where it hurts. The Chelsea owner has lost $9 billion in the past year - through the financial crisis, naturally, so don't be rifling down the side of the sofa should you be dining chez Roman anytime soon. His personal fortune remains estimated at around $13.9 billion, enough to help him keep hold of the coveted no.2 spot on Russia's rich list according to Finans magazine, whose readers also voted him 'most interesting billionaire'. Draw your own conclusions from that.

Perhaps in reaction to his diminished fortune, Abramovich has refinanced his ownership of Chelsea, converting part of what was a loan into equity, a move that prompted the club to hail it a sign of the billionaire's commitment to the club, but one that leaves some analysts less convinced about his long-term plans. One thing seems clear - Abramovich wishes to reduce the financial burden that his plaything places on him (some $342 a minute, according to one source), so any future wheeler-dealing in the transfer market will be done by selling surplus members of the existing squad. Given that many members of said squad are ageing, creaking, and no longer valued at the astronomical sums they cost, new manager Guus Hiddink may find his options limited. All of which lends just a little credence to the otherwise unthinkable rumour doing the rounds that John Terry could be snapped up for a huge fee by Manchester City this summer.

While the wheels on the bus of Chelsea's Russian revolution spin in the mud, up at Arsenal things are just getting started. Alisher Usmanov has pushed his stake in the club over the significant 25% threshold, meaning he now has the power to block certain boardroom decisions. It's been a slow process for Usmanov, who last declared a 24.02% interest a year ago; that he's finally achieved his stated goal despite opposition from the board and the fans suggest the Gooners faithful are dealing with a creature who knows what he wants and doesn't take 'no' gladly. Good job they had the returning Eduardo's goalscoring heroics last night to take their mind off things.

Last Updated 17 February 2009