Roman Abramovich secretly funded Vitesse, according to leaked documents

Leaked files have revealed that Roman Abramovich secretly provided significant funding to Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem while he owned Chelsea, despite repeated denials by both clubs at the time, an investigation by The Guardian claims.

The Oligarch files, originating from a Cyprus-based offshore financial services company, MeritServus, indicate that Abramovich loaned €117m to Vitesse via a complex web of offshore entities.

The chief beneficiaries of the loan were Georgian former footballer Merab Jordania, who bought Vitesse in 2010 and denied Abramovich’s involvement, and Russian businessman Alexander Chigirinsky, who took over the club from Jordania in 2013.

The Dutch FA conducted two investigations into the matter, most notably in 2014, after Jordania claimed that Vitesse’s European ambitions because “London didn’t want that”. However, they were unable to find conclusive evidence of links between Abramovich and the club.

Uefa rules prohibit two clubs in the same European competition from being owned or run by the same individual or organisation.

Jordania admitted to The Guardian that Abramovich lent him money, but insisted it was not to fund Vitesse. He said: “It was, let’s say, personal debt, my personal debt to Abramovich and Chigirinsky.”

Vitesse, now owned by American businessman Coley Parry, have denied any knowledge of payments by Abramovich, as has the former Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck.

Abramovich was forced to sell Chelsea last year due to his ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He received sanctions from the UK government at the end of his tenure as the Blues’ owner and has been a contributing factor to the Premier League club’s £121m losses – which were published earlier this week.

GBeNeFN | Tom Phillips

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