Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich secretly funded Dutch club Vitesse
Roman Abramovich secretly bankrolled Dutch top tier club Vitesse Arnhem with loans worth £102.8 million while he also owned Chelsea, leaked documents show.
The sanctioned Russian is also said to have also funded the club’s 2010 takeover by his Georgian former footballer friend Merab Jordania. Leaked offshore account details appear to prove a long-suspected financial connection between the clubs. Mason Mount and Nemanja Matic are among 29 players to be loaned by Chelsea to Vitesse during the Abramovich era.
According to the Oligarch Files of leaked data from the Cyprus-based offshore service provider MeritServus, Abramovich funded Vitesse through a series of opaque accounts.
Accounts linking Abramovich with the Dutch club were uncovered in a review of the files by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Links with Chelsea were suspected when Jordania arrived and described Abramovich as his friend at the inaugural press conference. However, the Vitesse owner denied Abramovich was involved and investigations by the Netherlands football association were unable to uncover any ties.
Friends of Abramovich, said: “There was never any undue influence and this article does not really suggest so either”.
Chelsea used Vitesse as a partner club throughout the 2010s. Serbia international Matic and the current Chelsea and England forward Mason Mount had spells in the Netherlands.
When Jordania left in 2013, another associate of Abramovich, the Russian businessman Alexander Chigirinsky, took over. A year after his departure, Jordania suggested Vitesse had been prevented from strengthening its team to try to qualify for the Champions League because “London didn’t want that”.
An interpretation of that comment was that Chelsea were worried about the UEFA requiring clubs that play against each other to be independently owned “to ensure the integrity of the competitions”.
Jordania later withdrew the comment, however, and a subsequent investigation by the league concluded “there are no indications that Chelsea has a say in Vitesse’s policy”.
It was previously reported in 2017 that associates of Abramovich had been involved in the Vitesse takeover. Chelsea said at the time: “We enjoy a close working relationship with Vitesse Arnhem, as we do with other clubs.”
The documents show Abramovich bankrolled Vitesse’s spending with a series of loans worth at least £102.8m by the end of 2015.