Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich, a self made billionaire who is better known for changing the fortunes of Chelsea football club, is a man who shies away from the spotlight. He is one of the most influential Russians around, but still not many people know about the real Roman Abramovich.
Roman was born on 24th October 1966 in Saratov, Russia to a Jewish family. He lost his parents before the age of three and was raised by his uncle. Having been through a lot of hardships since he was born, Roman understood the value of money from early in his life. He had an impeccable sense of business even at a young age, which helped him become very successful throughout his ventures, including a toy-making company that he started with money that he received from his parents-in-law as a wedding gift. He was involved in numerous legal, (and questionably legal) businesses ranging from oil products to contraband, but it all helped him earn enough to make the deal of his life in 1995. In 1995 Roman met another businessman in Boris Berezovsky, with whom he partnered and bought controlling shares in an oil company called ‘Sibneft’ for $100 million. The company soon started producing $3 billion worth of oil a year!
Roman then eyed the even more lucrative Russian aluminium industry. With privatization in Russia, a notorious ‘Aluminium War’ was ongoing for controlling the aluminium industry when Abramovich decided to throw his hat in the ring. The winner of this conflict was none other than Roman Abramovich, who also played a big part in stabilizing the industry and putting an end to the endless murders and crimes taking place during the ‘Aluminium War’.
In the year 2000, Roman was appointed as the governor of Chukotka, a poor Russian federal subject in the far eastern federal district of Russia. During his tenure, which was from 2000-2008, Roman invested close to a billion dollars of his own money in the area, which included building hospitals and schools. In 2003, he was named person of the year for his work as the governor and for his business success.
A New Business Venture In London
It was also in 2003 that Roman decided to buy a football club in London. His real reasons are still unknown owing to his secretive nature, but he said in an interview that he wanted to buy a football club because he was bored and wanted a new challenge. Chelsea at the time was in a financial crisis and was struggling to meet a $23 million interest payment, although they had just qualified for Champions League. Pini Zahavi, an Israeli super agent, was tasked with finding a club for Roman and he presented a number of options that ranged from Portsmouth FC to Manchester United, but Roman had his heart set on London, as it was his second home outside Russia. According to then CEO Trevor Birch, a deal was concluded in just 15 minutes with Ken Bates, the owner of the club at the time. Roman Abramovich instantly changed the fortunes of the club and transformed the whole footballing world. His investments helped Chelsea become one of the most successful football clubs in the world. No English club has won more silverware than Chelsea since his takeover, and the 2012 Champions League win is the biggest moment in the club’s history.
An Abundance Of Riches On And Off The Pitch
Roman’s carefree spending habits helped him to transform Chelsea into a super club. He retains such habits outside of football too. He likes to live and travel in luxury, and his possessions include boats, luxurious homes, aircrafts and a huge collection of expensive cars. One of his most prized possessions is his superyacht, Eclipse: a 162.5-metre-long beauty with an estimated cost of €340 million. He also owns another yacht called Pelorus that was twice refitted, and had a new front helipad added. Why you ask? Because Roman didn’t want to move his helicopter for his guests. For air travel, the Russian owns a Boeing 767-33A/ER called, ‘The Bandit’. He also owns many Airbus helicopters for travelling. His car collections includes two Maybach 62 limousines customized to be bomb and bulletproof (about $1.65 million), one of the only 30 Ferrari fXX racetrack-only rides ($2.2 million), a Bugatti Veyron, a Maserati MC 12 Corsa, a Ferrari 360, a Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, a Porsche Carrera GT, a Porsche 911 GT1, and a Rolls Royce Corniche boasting a VIP1 license plate. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he is the 75th richest person on the planet.
Looking towards the future, the love affair between Roman and Chelsea is under question like never before. He has become a victim of tensions between Britain and Russia in light of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. The billionaire has been facing trouble in trying to renew his UK investor visa, which led to him putting on hold his plans to build a new stadium for the club. In his absence, second in command Marina Granovskaia has been calling the shots and it is believed that she has the complete trust of Roman, having been his ally for over 20 years. She is as secretive as the boss himself, and very rarely gives any interviews or quotes, so there is little-to-no chance of anyone getting an update from her on Roman, and whether he still loves the club or has got bored of it. But for me, having a person like Marina in charge who is one of Roman’s closest allies is proof in itself that the Russian billionaire is still backing the club, planning for the long term and wanting the club to be self-sustainable as soon as possible. Whatever the future may hold, one thing is for sure: that everyone related to Chelsea, in any capacity, owes a lot to Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich.