Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Blues for Chelski Rivals

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Blues for Chelski Rivals

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

When Communism's iron grip was prised from the throat of mother Russia I flew into a Moscow still wrestling with its supposed freedom.

I was on a sporting mission - the first world title fight held in Russia was to feature our own Glenn McCrory - but what confronted me was a lawless city being swamped by greedy opportunists.

Freedom meant an ability to print cash, which in turn meant rampant lawlessness - there were enough guns and gangsters to make Al Capone look like a fat patsy.

Capitalism brings such debauchery before it brings a lift in living standards and a legal opportunity for those of fertile mind.

Over the last decade things have, to a degree at least, settled down in Moscow and its surrounding lands. However, what has been generated in the aftermath of the Russian exiles - some would say Mafia - returning home in droves is the Russian millionaire, an unthinkable proposition when Kruschev, Brezhnev and Chernenko decreed the only opulence was theirs.

Indeed, such were the riches waiting to be picked billionaires were quickly created.

And one such young man of legally but rapidly-acquired cash, Roman Abramovich, has transformed England. Or at least the passionate pastime of the English, association football.

Abramovich flew into John Lennon Airport on his personally-owned Boeing 767 on Sunday with more flunkies than a Royal tour to watch the monster he has created - Chelsea - begin their Premiership programme at Liverpool.

A handsome man in his mid-thirties with a blonde wife, he was a magnet for the cameras and, as with royalty, albeit Russian, rules were waived. He and 14 of his minders and friends were in open-necked shirts, which is normally frowned upon, and his 10-year-old son ought not to have been able to mix freely in the corridors of power. But money can buy love!

What Abramovich has done to English football is turn it on its head. While sadly Bob Murray can't sight a Ruski crossing the North Sea towards the Wear; while Leeds United hold a weekly car boot sale; while even Arsenal decide they can't splash the cash, Chelsea have so far spent upwards of pounds 74 million, which is obscene really. …

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