Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

From a Sunny Outpost of the Roman Empire

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

From a Sunny Outpost of the Roman Empire

Article excerpt

While in St Barts, on my hols-yes thanks, had a lovely time -I was returning one day to my hotel, Eden Rock, when I noticed this rather nice little football stadium, with a decent-looking stand, handsome entrance. Yet the island has a population of only 8,000 and is a tourist enclave, not a place where you'd expect much football to be played or watched.

There were lots of workmen around. I could see the pitch had been dug up and they were ready to lay rolls of what looked like some sort of artificial turf. Good idea, in a hot and dry island where real grass is hard to grow and water.

I talked to a workman and he told me who had put up the money--Mr Abramovich. Yes, the owner of Chelsea, a household face here in the UK, at least to football fans -though we have still to hear him speak--but not known in St Barts, until he arrived last year and paid a reported [pounds sterling]60m for a holiday home.

Another workman, more of a boss figure, said that Roman Abramovich had put money into 200 or so little football clubs, all over the world, just to help them out, without any fuss or publicity.

I got back to Blighty in time to turn on the telly and see the second leg of the Man United v Man City Carling Cup semi. In the crowd at Old Trafford, I noticed all these fans--clearly United supporters--wearing green and gold scarves. Heh up, I thought, are my eyes going, is it jet lag? Man U are red, City are blue, so what's with the green and gold? Have some Norwich City fans infiltrated?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I never heard the commentator explaining these scarves, so I didn't find out the reason till the next day, when the excellent Richard Williams in the Guardian wrote that they were part of a protest campaign. …

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