Roman Abramovich: Chelsea owner launches legal proceedings against 'false claims' in Putin's People book

Book published by Harper Collins alleges Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea on the personal orders of Russian president Vladimir Putin; Blues owner launches legal proceedings against what he calls 'false and defamatory statements about me'

Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea from Ken Bates in 2003
Image: Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea from Ken Bates in 2003

Roman Abramovich has launched legal proceedings against "false or misleading statements" in the book Putin's People he believes are damaging both his and Chelsea's reputation.

The Stamford Bridge club owner has filed a defamation suit against both publishers HarperCollins and author Catherine Belton.

Belton's book Putin's People includes claims from Sergei Pugachev that Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 on the personal orders of Russia's president Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich denies that claim and his lawyers say allegations that he has acted corruptly are false and totally unacceptable.

An Abramovich statement read: "Today my legal representatives have issued legal proceedings in England in relation to a book that was published in the UK. The book contains a number of false and defamatory statements about me, including about my purchase, and the activities, of Chelsea Football Club.

"Today's action was not taken lightly. It has never been my ambition to gain a public profile and I have always been reluctant to provide commentary on any matters, including any false or misleading statements about me or Chelsea Football Club.

"However, it has become clear that the false allegations in this book are having a damaging effect, not only on my personal reputation, but also in respect of the activities of Chelsea Football Club.

"My objective has been to avoid a legal case and my legal team has engaged with the publishers to try to find an amicable resolution. We have provided them with detailed information addressing the various false allegations about me in the book, including the repetition of allegations that have already been held to be false in the English High Court during previous legal proceedings. Unfortunately, these engagements were not successful, and the publisher has not corrected the false statements in the book.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (AP image)
Image: Abramovich says the claims in the book have had a damaging effect on his and Chelsea's reputation

"On the subject of Chelsea Football Club. In contrast to the portrayal in the book, my ambition with Chelsea Football Club has always been to create world class teams on the pitch and to ensure the club plays a positive role in all of its communities. I believe our successes and activities over the years speak for themselves, including the trophies won, expansion of the Chelsea Academy, development of the Women's team and the Chelsea Foundation becoming the largest charitable organisation within the Premier League.

"It is my hope that today's action will not only refute the false allegations in regard to my own name, but also serve as a reminder of Chelsea's positive footprint in the UK. I have every belief that the courts will give me a fair hearing, as they have in the past."

Chelsea added: "Chelsea Football Club is aware of today's legal action by club owner Roman Abramovich and will not be providing any comment on the matter.

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"The club and its staff are proud of its many achievements under Mr. Abramovich's stewardship, including the 16 major trophies won on the pitch by the Men's team, the eight won by the Women's team, the major successes achieved by the club's Academy, the establishment of world-class training facilities at Cobham, and the significant work the club and the Chelsea Foundation are doing in the community, including our continued work to fight all forms of discrimination."

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