Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eriksson Mystery; Sven Linked to Meeting with Chelsea Owner

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eriksson Mystery; Sven Linked to Meeting with Chelsea Owner

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

SPECULATION was increasing today that Sven-Goran Eriksson met representatives of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich last week.

And the Football Association pledged it would look into the claims when Eriksson returns from abroad.

The England coach, who is under contract to the FA until after the 2006 World Cup, is alleged to have had a meeting with associates of Abramovich including agent Pini Zahavi, who helped to broker the [pounds sterling]140 million takeover deal at Stamford Bridge.

It is believed pictures will be published tomorrow showing the Swede outside the offices where the meeting took place.

The FA refused to comment directly on the allegations today but spokesman Adrian Bevington said: "Sven is clearly a well-known football personality and has many friends socially, involved directly and indirectly in the game.

"Sven is out of the country at the moment and we have nothing to say until we have spoken to him."

Abramovich has promised to turn Chelsea into a footballing force in Europe and the capture of Eriksson as manager would be a real coup.

The Swede was linked with a move to Manchester United a year ago but has always said he is happy with his job as England coach and it would be a severe blow to the international team's chances of qualifying for Euro 2004 if he was to leave now.

The future of present Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri has been the subject of some speculation since Abramovich took over but the Italian seemed to be safe for the time being.

A host of top European players have already been

linked with Chelsea and Abramovich would see the arrival of Eriksson as an enormous advantage in persuading star names to sign for the club.

Meanwhile, Ronaldinho is set to reject a move to Chelsea, according to Paris St Germain president Francis Graille.

Chelsea have been in contact with PSG regarding the Brazilian following Abramovich's takeover.

However, Ronaldinho is believed to still favour a move to Real Madrid or Manchester United, with his future expected to be resolved in the next 48 hours. Graille claims the midfielder would reject a move to London purely on football grounds. …

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