Revealed! The sanctioned Chelsea owner could have purchased Arsenal in 2003 but a ‘mistake’ from Swiss bank UBS led him to look across London instead.
However, Roman Abramovich was told Arsenal ‘categorically not for sale’.
The revelations come in a 2019 book written by two Wall Street Journal writers, which details how Abramovich hired Swiss bank UBS to examine the economics of English top-flight football.
Abramovich has been in charge at Chelsea for 19 years, with the Blues winning five Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies under the Russian oligarch.
Abramovich announced his intention to sell Chelsea in a statement last week after pressure to do so because of his alleged affiliation with Russia president Vladimir Putin.
But the 55-year-old was slapped with sanctions by the UK government on Thursday, having his assets frozen due to that connection with Putin he was deemed to have had “for decades”.
Chelsea will not be able to buy or sell players, or offer new contracts while the sanctions are imposed on Abramovich and these things could have been happening in north London, if things had been different.
One of the findings in ‘The Club’ – a book about how the Premier League became the richest and most disruptive in sport – revealed! that ‘Arsenal were categorically not for sale’ – a piece of information which would later prove to be very wide of the mark as the likes of Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov would begin to invest in the club several years later.
Kroenke became a shareholder in May 2007, before eventually becoming the majority shareholder in April 2011, while Russian tycoon Usmanov sold his 30 percent stake in Arsenal to Kroenke in 2018 for around £1.9billion after several years of competing to buy shares in the club with the American billionaire.
Usmanov was another Russian oligarch who was recently sanctioned by the government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
His company USM recently had sponsorship ties with Everton and he had spoken publicly about his ambition of one day purchasing Arsenal.
The EU described Usmanov as “a pro-Kremlin oligarch with particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin”.