Chelsea Owner, Roman Abramovic Wins Libel Case Over Purchase Of The London Club

Chelsea Owner, Roman Abramovic Wins Libel Case Over Purchase Of The London Club

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By Agency Report

Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovic have won a libel court case following his acquisition of the club in 2023.

London’s High Court on Wednesday ruled that a book which claimed the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea football club at the Kremlin’s behest were defamatory after he sued for libel.

President Vladimir Putin has overseen a vast exodus of ill-gotten money to spread influence abroad, including Abramovich’s purchase of Chelsea in 2003.

Judge Amanda Tipples issued a ruling after Abramovich and Russian oil company Rosneft sued publisher HarperCollins and author Catherine Belton personally for libel, with their claims being heard together.

The judge said she agreed with Abramovich that several allegations in the book by the Financial Times’ former Moscow correspondent were “defamatory of the claimant” and presented as statements of fact, not opinion.

The judge concluded that the critically acclaimed book alleged Abramovich “purchased Chelsea Football Club in 2003 at the direction of President Putin so that Russia could gain acceptance and influence in the UK”.

HarperCollins said it was “carefully considering the judgement”.

A spokesperson for Abramovich said “we welcome today’s judgement” and called for the “false and defamatory claims about Mr. Abramovich to be corrected as soon as possible”.

The book cited sources including exiled Russian billionaire Sergei Pugachev as alleging that Putin wanted Abramovich to buy Chelsea to increase Russian influence in the UK.

It also quoted a source close to Abramovich as denying this.

The judge ruled the passages’ meaning to the reader is that Abramovich is “under the control of President Vladimir Putin” and “has had to make the fortune from his business empire available for the use of President Putin and his regime”.

She said the book made several other defamatory claims concerning Abramovich, including over his alleged role as “cashier” for former Russian president Boris Yeltsin.

Tipples also ruled that one claim concerning Rosneft’s purchase of an oil company was defamatory.Chelsea won the UEFA Champions League in May 2021 firna record second time

The rulings concerned only the judge’s interpretation of how passages in the book would be interpreted by an “ordinary reasonable reader”, not whether they were true.

This came after initial hearings in July when lawyers for the claimants presented the judge with lists of what they said were offending passages in the book.

Two other Russian oligarchs, Pyotr Aven and Mikhail Fridman, dropped legal claims after HarperCollins agreed to cut material from future editions.

In June 2003, Abramovich became the owner of the companies that control Chelsea Football Club in West London. The previous owner of the club was Ken Bates, who went on to buy rivals Leeds United.

Chelsea immediately embarked on an ambitious programme of commercial development, with the aim of making it a worldwide brand on a par with footballing dynasties such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, and also announced plans to build a new state-of-the-art training complex in Cobham, Surrey.

Since the takeover, the club has won 18 major trophies – the UEFA Champions League twice, the UEFA Europa League twice, the UEFA Supercup once, the Premier League five times, the FA Cup five times (with 2010 providing the club’s first ever league and FA Cup double), and the League Cup three times, making Chelsea the most successful English trophy winning team during his ownership, equal with Manchester United (who have also won 16 major trophies in the same time span).

His tenure has also been marked by rapid turnover in managers.

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