Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK & is being forced to give up the $3 billion club.


Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK & is being forced to give up the $3 billion club.

But the real story is WILD — it includes privatization, Vladimir Putin, billions of dollars in yachts & real estate, frozen bank accounts & more.

1) Roman Abramovich was born in Saratov, Russia.

He grew up extremely poor and became an orphan when his parents died before he was 4 years old.

He dropped out of college, joined the army & eventually started selling rubber ducks out of his apartment.

He was making $3k a year.

2) But his life changed in the 1990s.

All businesses in Russia were state-owned, but when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, these businesses were transferred to private owners.

This created Russian Oligarchs.

And one of the biggest beneficiaries was Roman Abramovich. 

3) Roman Abramovich & his friend Boris Berezovsky had deep relationships with the Russian government.

That enabled them to buy state-owned assets for pennies on the dollar, and the two became joint owners of the Sibneft oil group in 1995.

That made them billionaires overnight.

4) But here's where it gets interesting:

Sibneft oil group was purchased for $200 million by Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky, despite the fact that the company was reputedly valued approximately $3 billion at the time.

What's even crazier?

In 2005, Abramovich returned his interest to the government for $12 billion.

5) So how is Vladimir Putin involved?

Abramovich & Putin became friends, and when President Boris Yeltsin stepped down in 1999, Yeltsin listened to Abramovich's recommendation & appointed Putin as the new Russian President.

This would serve Abramovich well in the coming years. 

6) The multi-decade relationship between Roman Abramovich & Vladimir Putin has been well documented.

Abramovich has supported Putin politically — he attended Putin's birthday parties & helped Russia land the 2018 World Cup.

He even allegedly GIFTED Putin a $50 million yacht.

7) Roman Abramovich was able to develop his business empire thanks to his friendship with Vladimir Putin.

On the Sibneft oil deal, he made over $12 billion while receiving tax benefits and favourable government contracts.

He did, however, found Rusal, the world's second-largest aluminium firm.

8) And with this wealth, Roman Abramovich has acquired assets throughout the Western world.

He owns $500 million of luxury real estate in London, New York, St. Barts, and Aspen.

And he has nearly $2 billion in superyachts & planes.

But no purchase was more public than Chelsea.

9) In 2003, Roman Abramovich paid over $200 million for Chelsea.

He subsequently invested $2 billion of his own money in the club, transforming it overnight into a superpower.

Chelsea had not won a league title in 48 years prior to Abramovich's arrival, but they have won five since then.

10) But with Russia invading Ukraine, Roman Abramovich's relationship with Vladimir Putin is being examined & his assets have been frozen by the UK.

He can't travel to the UK, and no one there can do business with him.

He has also been disqualified as the director of Chelsea.

11) So what does this mean for Chelsea?

The $3 billion team sale has been delayed, but the UK is allowing them to continue playing games.

Only season ticket holders can attend, the merchandise store has been closed & their bank account was even frozen by Barclays.

It's a mess. 

12) The sports world has never seen a situation like this before.

The complexities are obvious, and the moral debates are pervasive.

Teams and leagues will have to make hard decisions, and it will be impossible to make everyone happy.

13) But while the sports world is focused on Roman Abramovich, Chelsea & the implications of sanctions, we can't forget that millions of innocent lives are being negatively impacted by the violent conflict in Ukraine.

War has no winners, and some things are bigger than sports 🙏

One clarification — Roman Abramovich & Boris Berezovsky didn’t pay $200 million out of pocket for Sibneft oil.

Boris was friends with President Yeltsin, and they secured a loan to purchase the company through the loans for shares scheme.

Credit: Joe Pompliano