How a simple mistake stopped Roman Abramovich buying Arsenal instead of Chelsea

Sanctioned Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich almost bought Arsenal back in 2003 but a mistake by Swiss bank, UBS, forced him to reconsider his options.

According to a book “The Club”, written by two Wall Street Journal writers, Abramovich was investigating the economics of English top-flight football all those years ago, as he considered a takeover bid for a club.

He hired UBS to help with his investigation, and the bank told him “Arsenal were categorically not for sale”.

This was obviously not true.

Shares in Arsenal have changed hands many times since 2003, and current owner Stan Kroenke, didn’t even own a single share until 2007.

Former shareholder Alisher Usmanov also hadn’t yet bought into the club at the time, so if those two managed it a few years later, it clearly wasn’t too difficult to do so, for a willing buyer.

The book also adds that former vice-chairman David Dein believes Arsenal would have ‘seriously considered’ the bid, but it never came.

Instead, Abramovich bought Chelsea and, eventually, Kroenke bought Arsenal.