Tag Archives: billionaire

Paolo Di Canio"s politics don"t matter, his results do, says Sunderland fan

COMMENT: Sunderland fan of 30 years says put politics aside – it's only the results
that matter

By
Graeme Down, Sunderland Fan Of 30 Years

PUBLISHED:

12:35 GMT, 1 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 1 April 2013

I was at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and witnessed Manchester United beat us fairly comfortably. We were very poor in the first half and just before the break I tweeted: ‘Half-time approaching. 1-0 United. #SAFC #Spineless #Depressing #Championship.’

I think my mood summed up the thoughts of the 40,000 Sunderland fans at the Stadium of Light. Everything our supporters demand from the players — passion, hunger and desire — was missing.

Then the news came through later that evening that life-long Sunderland supporter Martin O’Neill had been sacked.

Experienced Paolo Di Canio has played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton in the Premier League

Experienced Paolo Di Canio has played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton in the Premier League

For some weeks, I have noticed along with friends of mine that O’Neill’s body language left a lot to be desired. As a fan, we’d like our manager to immerse himself in the North East, the great footballing tradition of the region, and above all, be proud of managing a great club.

And we are a great football club.

League position aside, we have an average home attendance of just over 40,000 fans, we have a state of the art academy in place, and we have a wonderful football history.

But our club — as many are these days — is run by a foreign owner, Texan billionaire Ellis Short.

With seven games left to go and sitting just a point above the relegation zone, appointing a new manager, let alone one without Premier league pedigree, has left supporters feeling extremely nervous.

Sacked: Martin O'Neill was dismissed after losing to Manchester United

Sacked: Martin O'Neill was dismissed after losing to Manchester United

Poor: Sunderland were again outplayed against Manchester United on Saturday

Poor: Sunderland were again outplayed against Manchester United on Saturday

I expected us to secure a top 10 finish this season. We have spent 30million in three transfer windows, but our squad simply have not been good enough so far. Yes, we have injury problems but with games coming up, starting with Chelsea on Saturday, then the small event of a Tyne-Wear derby against our noisy neighbours Newcastle in less than two weeks’ time, it is a tough start by anyone’s standard.

Di Canio is potentially a good appointment, but this seems to me like another knee-jerk reaction to try and stay in the Premier league. There is of course the detail of another 60million of TV money at stake next season, and which owner would want to miss out on that

Then there’s his ‘facist’ political stance. How will the hard-working fans of the city take to his appointment, particularly given the club’s working-class heritage, never mind the sponsors of the club

Warning: A Sunderland supporters group said they expect Paolo Di Canio to be sacked if he expresses any fascist views

Warning: A Sunderland supporters group said they expect Paolo Di Canio to be sacked if he expresses any fascist views

Club colours: One thing that cannot be questioned is Di Canio's passion

Club colours: One thing that cannot be questioned is Di Canio's passion

Personally, I have no opinion on his politics. Ultimately he has been appointed to get results and keep Sunderland in the Premier League — for supporters of the football club that is what fundamentally counts.

This a huge gamble by our board. For sure, l like his enthusiasm but does he really have the experience at this level The man we’ve just sacked had the experience, and as a motivator he was up there with the best. We all remember what happened to our ‘friends’ 10 miles up the road when Alan Shearer took over with eight games to go don’t we…

Time will tell. His appointment by Ellis Short is either a complete masterstroke, or a monumental catastrophe.

Brian McDermott sacked by Reading – players informed by text message – Roberto Di Matteo emerges as favourite

Reading callously sack McDermott…and send the players a group text message to let them know with Di Matteo emerging as the firm favourite to replace him

By
Sami Mokbel and Sam Cunningham

PUBLISHED:

22:47 GMT, 11 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:57 GMT, 11 March 2013

Reading's shocked players learned boss Brian McDermott had been sacked yesterday when they all received a round-robin text message from the club.

A core group of senior players were said to be baffled and angered by the treatment of the manager who led them into the Premier League just 10 months ago, as last night former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio emerged as an early contender to replace McDermott.

Former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has emerged as the leading candidate for the vacant position with large stakes placed on the Italian returning to English football at the Madejski Stadium.

*Scroll down to watch highlights of McDermott's final match in charge

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

The bottom six of the Premier League

The bottom six of the Premier League

Striker Jason Roberts said: ‘He’s a
football man and a good man and I just think at this moment in time we
take stock of what he has achieved and place on record our thanks.’

McDermott, 51, had been at the club
for nearly 13 years, first as Under 19 and reserve manager, then chief
scout before taking charge of the first team, and sent texts to friends
saying he was ‘devastated’ by the decision.

The Royals’ billionaire owner,
Russian Anton Zingarevich, took the decision after Saturday’s 2-1 home
defeat by Aston Villa, which left the club off the foot of the table on
goal difference.

Leading contender: Former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio was spotted at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and is the bookies favourite for the job

Leading contender: Former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio was spotted at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and is the bookies favourite for the job

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

The sacking was confirmed by a club
statement put out just minutes after the players all received the text —
which also ordered them not to speak to the media and said any comments
on Twitter should be pre-approved by club officials.

That didn’t stop Roberts talking,
while Noel Hunt tweeted: ‘Want to say thanks to Brian for everything he
did for me especially. He’s been a great manager, man and friend to me
and will be missed!’

Famous night: Shane Long scores for Reading against Liverpool at Anfield in 2010

Famous night: Shane Long scores for Reading against Liverpool at Anfield in 2010

Taking the applause: Shane Long salutes the Reading fans after the win

Taking the applause: Shane Long salutes the Reading fans after the win

Di Canio was installed as the
bookies’ favourite for the job after he was spotted at the Madejski
watching Saturday’s game (above) but Di Matteo could be offered the job tomorrow.

Former Russia boss Dick Advocaat,
currently in charge of PSV in Holland, is also believed to be on the
wishlist as Zingarevich aims to name a replacement before Saturday’s
trip to Manchester United.

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich orders Rafa Benitez to deliver top-four finish

Abramovich gives up on cups and orders Benitez to deliver top-four finish

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:28 GMT, 29 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:11 GMT, 30 January 2013

Roman Abramovich has written off Chelsea's chances of winning silverware this season and told Rafa Benitez to finish in the top four.

Chelsea's technical director Michael Emenalo met with Benitez at the club's training ground on Tuesday morning and passed on the message from their billionaire benefactor.

It means Chelsea – who started the season with the chance to win seven trophies – must finish strongly in the Barclays Premier League to guarantee Champions League football.

Mind the gap: Rafa Benitez is under instruction from Roman Abramovich to guide Chelsea to a top-four finish

Mind the gap: Rafa Benitez is under instruction from Roman Abramovich to guide Chelsea to a top-four finish

Although Abramovich and various Chelsea executives are furious with the manner of the team's performance in the 2-2 draw at Brentford in the FA Cup, finishing in the top four is all that counts.

Benitez met Emenalo before training on Tuesday for the latest inquest into Chelsea's failing season. The interim Chelsea coach said: 'All I can say is what I know. I have had meetings. We were talking about the situation and it's clear for me the priority is the top four and progressing as much as we can in the other competitions.

'In the last 10 days, we had a fantastic game against Arsenal, not such a good game against Swansea, and 50:50 the other day against Brentford. 'We still have the FA Cup and the Europa League, and we can still finish in the top four.'

All smiles: Demba Ba in training on Tuesday as Fernando Torres (below) bears the brunt of a tough challenge

All smiles: Demba Ba in training on Tuesday as Fernando Torres (below) bears the brunt of a tough challenge

Fernando Torres

Chelsea began the campaign with the chance to win seven trophies, but the only competitions they can win now are the Europa League and to defend the FA Cup.

Although Benitez insists he still wants to win the Cups, he has been in left in no uncertain terms about the priority of the owner.

Chelsea finished sixth in the Barclays Premier League last season and only qualified for the Champions League as winners.

Despite increasing pressure from Abramovich over the club's results in recent weeks, Benitez is working with a squad restricted by injury, fatigue and the Africa Cup of Nations.

Benitez, who has the support of the majority of Chelsea players under difficult circumstances, takes the team to Reading this evening in the Premier League.

They will be without keeper Petr Cech again, who is out with a calf injury, and they will have to rely on error prone Ross Turnbull at the Madejski Stadium.

Benitez is short of attacking options and Chelsea confirmed that they had offered Didier Drogba the chance of an emotional return to the club.

Drogba began training at Cobham to keep fit after the end of the Chinese football season and he was offered a six month deal with the option of another year. Despite the temptation to relive the glory years, Drogba has opted to join Turkish club Galatasaray on an 18 month deal.

Benitez will rotate Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, who cannot play three games a week because of a chronic knee condition, to get them across the finishing line this season.

The Chelsea chief came under severe criticism from supporters on Sunday when he replaced Branislav Ivanovic with Cesar Azpilicueta when the team were losing at Griffin Park.

They forced a replay when Torres scored the equaliser, but it's clear that the players are being affected by the mood around the club.

The Chelsea chief added: 'I talk to the players, that's my way. Some managers like to put their arms around their shoulders.

'I talk to the players every day. I talk with the injured players in the physio room. 'With the players in training. Or with senior players, why this, why that, and what we need to improve and what the game-plan will be.'

Arsene Wenger thanks Arsenal board for sticking by him amid attack from Alisher Usmanov

Wenger backs Arsenal board amid Usmanov attack and thanks club for support

|

UPDATED:

17:14 GMT, 20 December 2012

Arsene Wenger maintains he has always felt fully supported by the Arsenal board.

Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov, the club’s second-largest shareholder, today reiterated in an interview with American broadcaster CNBC his desire to further invest in the Barclays Premier League club.

Usmanov – whose Red & White Holdings group are not represented on the board – also claimed Wenger did not have enough backing and blasted the decision to sell captain Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United in a 24million deal last summer.

Scroll down for video

Stand by your man: Arsene Wenger has support despite Arsenal's recent woes

Stand by your man: Arsene Wenger has support despite Arsenal's recent woes

Wenger, though, feels the club’s policy of self-sustainability will pay dividends in the long term.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League trip to Wigan, Wenger said: 'I believe I have always had the support from the board, and am very grateful for that. We have worked over the years in respecting in what we did, which is to always work within our financial resources.

Arsenal Christmas fixtures

Wigan v Arsenal
Sat 22 Dec, 12.45pm

Arsenal v Newcastle
Sat 29 Dec, 5.30pm

Southampton v Arsenal
Tue 1 Jan, 5.30pm

'Therefore we made decisions which from outside looked not based on purely footballing reasons, but it was based as well on financial reasons.'

Arsenal yesterday announced new long-term deals for England midfielder Jack Wilshere and four other young players – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey.

Wenger remains hopeful England winger Theo Walcott will follow suit and commit his future to Arsenal, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

The Gunners boss, however, insists just simply spending big in the January sales will not necessarily take Arsenal forward.

He added: 'What is important is this team develops in the way we want to play.

'I have seen some interesting aspects on Monday night at Reading.

'Let’s see how far this team can go.

Gone: Arsenal were forced to let Robin van Persie join Manchester United

Gone: Arsenal were forced to let Robin van Persie join Manchester United

'If we can add one or two exceptional players, we will do it.

'What we do not want to do is add players just because people put us under pressure to buy players.

'That is where we have to be strong enough. If we find a player who will give us something special, we will do it – but that in January will not be easy.

'We have money, and why should I not spend it if it is to find the right players

'I believe as well the first and most important thing is to keep confidence in the players we have.

'If we are consistent, we can come back.'

Usmanov, 59, has an estimated fortune of some 18billion and maintains his long-term ambition is to take a controlling interest in Arsenal, where American Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder.

Speaking to CNBC from Moscow, Usmanov said: 'I want to take this opportunity to just reaffirm that in order to help the team, we would be ready to buy more shares, to buy control, to buy all shares.

'We are ready to do all that we can in order to help the company, in order to consider any form of co-operation or ownership with the team.

'If I have a big stake in Arsenal of course I have my opinion what we must do, for example in the commercial side there are many questions over the effectiveness of the commercial side of Arsenal today, but we will see, we will wait and maybe when I wake up some day I have this Arsenal club.'

Usmanov continued: 'I always tell Mr Wenger he is one of the best coaches and football managers in the world, but I openly admit he has many, many difficulties to contend with.

'This decision (selling Van Persie) was a mistake. If I am one of Wenger’s players I would want to stay for the finish, but he explained Robin wanted to go to win trophies.'

VIDEO Arsene happy to tie players in

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David Beckham"s move to Monaco is one I want, says manager Claudio Ranieri

Bring me Beckham! Ex-Chelsea boss Ranieri confirms interest from Monaco

|

UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 18 December 2012

Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri has confirmed his desire to bring David Beckham to the ambitious Ligue 2 club.

Ranieri, who is backed by Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, also wants Chelsea's Frank Lampard and believes Beckham can play a pivotal role in the development of Monaco's emerging squad.

Beckham, 37, is considering his options after leaving MLS side LA Galaxy.

Star quality: David Beckham is wanted by Monaco, and manager Claudio Ranieri

Star quality: David Beckham is wanted by Monaco, and manager Claudio Ranieri

Paris St Germain are also interested but coach Carlo Ancelotti, Beckham's ally, is under severe pressure to keep his job.

Ranieri said: 'Beckham keeps a passion for football, that's what interests me. It would be helpful in all aspects of the development of the club.

'He could share his passion with our young players, at 37 years old, he continues to improve and be professional.

'All young players need an experienced coach but also references in the locker room.'

French fancy: Claudio Ranieri has plenty of financial clout to strengthen Monaco

French fancy: Claudio Ranieri has plenty of financial clout to strengthen Monaco

Old friend: Ranieri has never managed Beckham, but has been beaten by him

Old friend: Ranieri has never managed Beckham, but has been beaten by him

On Tuesday, Sportsmail revealed the interest in Lampard.

Ranieri signed the midfielder from West Ham for 11million in 2001. Although the Italian was fired by Roman Abramovich in May 2004, Lampard retains a healthy respect for him as a coach.

Ranieri wants to take advantage of Lampard’s fading star at Chelsea after the London club failed to open talks with the player over a new deal.

Meanwhile, Robbie Keane says he intends to rest rather than take in a loan spell in the Premier League.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich"s plans to conquer the world (just as Rafa Benitez is beginning to win over the fans)

Abramovich's plans to conquer the world (just as Benitez is beginning to win over the fans)

By
Joe Bernstein

PUBLISHED:

22:24 GMT, 15 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

22:24 GMT, 15 December 2012

Roman Abramovich's quest for world
domination began with a trip to Arsenal's training ground in the summer
of 2003, shortly after he had bought Chelsea from Ken Bates.

Promising his new club the best
facilities money could buy, the young Russian billionaire took his
entourage on a tour of other clubs' headquarters to seek inspiration.

Having a ball: Torres has started to find the form he showed under Benitez at Liverpool

Having a ball: Torres has started to find the form he showed under Benitez at Liverpool

The visit to Arsenal's London Colney was the key one. 'It should be like this,' said the oligarch as he surveyed the magnificent 143-acre site with its high-tech training and medical facilities. 'But bigger and better.'

Ten seasons on, in the unlikely setting of Yokohama, Abramovich's unwavering vision about Chelsea being the very best could become official at lunchtime on Sunday.

The FIFA Club World Cup may be belittled by some but, for Chelsea's owner, beating Corinthians of Brazil in the final is a natural progression from being crowned champions of Europe on an unforgettable night in Munich last May. And, according to Fernando Torres, victory could even end up with fans singing the name of interim manager Rafael Benitez.

Most of the Chelsea players are still reticent to discuss the Spaniard's influence since the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo last month, but Benitez is handling the situation handed to him by Abramovich with dexterity.

He joined locals in the 70th floor breakfast room at the Royal Park Hotel in Yokohama, where the team are staying, happily posing for photographs and has encouraged his players to mingle with the 200 or so fans who gather every day for a glimpse of their idols.

On a mission: Benitez could win over more fans by claiming first trophy as Chelsea boss

On a mission: Benitez could win over more fans by claiming first trophy as Chelsea boss

Torres, who has scored five goals in his last three games – his best run in almost two years at the club – said: 'It is clear that the team have improved, both in defence and attack, and all this bears the stamp of Rafa. I knew he would make a big difference to Chelsea. He works hard – very hard – and soon the fans will accept him as one of them and not just for the results, but by the attitude we will see on the pitch. Now the fans will be happier and will like him.

'They are going to see the Chelsea they expect and the one they want to see. The Liverpool-Chelsea rivalry, with all the fighting that took place, may have created an animosity that is understandable, but it is just a matter of time before everything changes.'

In a quirk of the fixture list, Chelsea's next game after their world final will remind Abramovich of how it all began, with Bates now chairman of Wednesday's Capital One Cup quarter-final opponents Leeds.

Abramovich's 140million Stamford Bridge buy-out in July 2003 was not only the most significant event of the modern Premier League era – opening the door for a new breed of overseas owner – it was also typically aggressive. He talked terms with Bates on the Wednesday and bought the club the following day.

Powerful: Roman Abramovich attends speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Powerful: Roman Abramovich attends speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Indeed, it set the tone for a tumultuous decade that has seen the number of managers employed by Abramovich – nine – exceeded by the number of trophies won, 10.

One of the witnesses to this period is Gwyn Williams, who worked at Chelsea as coach, scout, technical director and assistant manager for 26 years under both Bates and Abramovich before rejoining Bates at Leeds in 2006, where he is the club's technical director.

'I was driving to Paris to pick up some trialists when I heard about the Abramovich deal,' he said. 'By the time I came out of the tunnel the other side, it had been done. It was a surprise because it happened so quickly, but we knew if Chelsea were going to the top, they needed seriously rich people involved.'

Abramovich was only 36 when he bought Chelsea and already a multi-billionaire. He decided to control the signing of players personally. Eugene Tenenbaum and Bruce Buck (trusted advisers), Pini Zahavi (agent) and Piet de Visser (scout) were consulted rather than leaving decisions to the manager. Last summer Eden Hazard and Oscar were signed without Di Matteo being a factor.

Williams does not see a problem with Abramovich's hands-on approach or his regular turnaround of managers. 'It's only regarded as strange in British football. In Europe, it's normal for a director of football to buy players and leave the manager to coach them. A club need to know their new player will be a good investment whoever the manager is,' he said.

'If every player you signed was fantastic, life would be easy. But Roman is not afraid of the hiccups and keeps moving forward. He is ambitious and needs to be. He is a wealthy man but also a clever man.'

A clever man who could be left feeling on top of the world.

We need Thierry Henry to coach at Arsenal, says shareholder Alisher Usmanov

We need Henry to coach at Arsenal, says shareholder Usmanov

|

UPDATED:

22:47 GMT, 13 December 2012

Billionaire shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, has insisted Thierry Henry should join Arsenal's coaching staff.

It comes following the club's
shameful quarter-final exit of the Capital One Cup at the hands of
League Two Bradford on Tuesday.

Dream team: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Gunners legend Thierry Henry

Dream team: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Gunners legend Thierry Henry

Wenger is contracted to the Gunners until 2014 and is under no danger of losing his job after being handed the full backing of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and the board.

But Sportsmail highlighted the growing tensions between Wenger and assistant manager Steve Bould over their working relationship.

And Usmanov, who owns a 29 per cent stake in the club and is still fighting for a place on the Arsenal board, is known to think Wenger needs more help within his coaching set-up.

The Russian, 59, says French striker Henry has a 'more important role' than just to return as a player when he comes to the club on loan from New York Red Bulls next month. He said: 'I don't have any powers in terms of decisions at the club but there are a few players with whom I am in contact.

Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls

'My favourite is probably Thierry Henry. Thierry should be involved at the club but not as a player. He has another role to play, a more important role.

'Take Patrick Vieira at Manchester City. He is also a symbol of Arsenal but he is helping another club.

We have to avoid that with Thierry. The presence of a champion can radically change the soul of a team.

'That is what Thierry showed last year when he came back to Arsenal but I think that comebacks only succeed once. That's why I think the decision to come back belongs only to Thierry.'

Neil Lennon not hankering for move south just yet

Lennon not hankering for move south just yet after Celtic's European success

|

UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 9 December 2012

Celic manager Neil Lennon has insisted he is not ready to cash in his burgeoning reputation in the wake of Champions League knockout qualification by moving south to the English Premier League — just yet.

The Northern Irishman, however, does admit the lure of the richest league in the world could eventually be enough to tempt him away from his spiritual home of Parkhead in the future.

Lennon’s reputation has never been hotter after his team, built on a shoestring budget, succeeded where billionaire-backed Manchester City and Chelsea failed by unlocking the golden gates to the last 16 of Europe’s elite with last week’s nail-biting 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow.

Staying put: Neil Lennon is happy to remain at Celtic for the time being

Staying put: Neil Lennon is happy to remain at Celtic for the time being

That has led to speculation over the future of Lennon’s star players like Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Georgios Samaras, but Lennon’s work has not gone unnoticed in board rooms down south either. And the 41-year-old, who is well known in England after his League Cup winning spell with Leicester City, admits managing in the Premiership one day is an appealing prospect.

Lennon said: ‘I’m ambitious, obviously, and maybe one day, if I’m still good enough, a Premier League team might shine the eyes at me and it’ll be something to consider.

‘But I’m very happy here at the minute. I love what I do and, obviously, I have great feeling and affinity with the support and the club. I got this job young and I’m a work in progress but, if something comes up later on in my career, who knows

‘But you can’t think too far ahead in football because you never know what’s around the corner. Just last year I was thinking about resigning because we were 3-0 down to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park so football changes quickly — and it could change again for me in future.’

With Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke and Bayern Munich each winning their Champions League group stages, the odds are on Lennon’s men drawing a German side in the knockouts.

Easy does it: Celtic strolled to victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend

Easy does it: Celtic strolled to victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend

In addition to his previously stated aversion to facing Manchester United, Lennon would not favour being paired on December 20 with Jurgen Klopp’s excellent Dortmund side, which topped Group D for death featuring Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax.

‘Every team in there is a quality side,’ Lennon said. ‘I’d like to avoid maybe Manchester United and Dortmund. But, whoever we get, we’ll take.
‘It’s great to be in the last 16 because European football is the stage you are judged on at this club.

‘We had two titanic games against Barcelona and we fell just short in the Nou Camp, but to beat them at home is a night that will live with me forever. To qualify as well as to win against Barcelona is great.

‘We have done well in Europe but I know at this football club you are always two defeats away from a crisis.

‘I’ve been here for 12 years as a player, coach and manager and there are big expectations amongst the supporters at this club.

‘That makes this job intense, challenging and demanding — but also wonderful.’

Roman Abramovich does not talk to other chairman and turned down a Wigan pie, says Dave Whelan

As Abramovich comes under fire from Chelsea fans, Wigan chairman Whelan reveals he doesn't talk, refused a pie, brings his own drinking water and turned up in bulletproof car

|

UPDATED:

11:52 GMT, 2 December 2012

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich may be well known for hiring and firing managers – but little else is known about him inside the football world.

The billionaire Russian took over the Stamford Bridge club in 2003, but does little time mingling with his fellow Premier League owners.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan revealed he has shared just six words with the wealthy Russian back in 2005 and gave a rare glimpse into the cloak-and-dagger world.

Keeping himself to himself: Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich does not mingle with other chairman

Keeping himself to himself: Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich does not mingle with other chairman

Whelan and Abramovich’s only meeting came seven years ago when Chelsea travelled to play the Latics.

Abramovich landed by helicopter and drove the few hundred yards to the stadium in a bulletproof limo driven up from London – and then refused a famous Wigan pie on his arrival.

Whelan told the Daily Star Sunday: 'Abramovich had just bought Chelsea and he used to travel then. He came to Wigan in a helicopter and sent three men up on the Wednesday and two more on the Friday.

'I let him land about 300 yards from the ground. I said I would put a car on to pick him up but he had his own sent up from London. Bulletproof.

Sign of affection: Chelsea fans have an Abramovich banner at Stamford Bridge

Sign of affection: Chelsea fans have an Abramovich banner at Stamford Bridge

'It picked him up and brought him to the stadium. He stood in the boardroom and wouldn’t move out of the corner. He wouldn’t have anything at all to eat or drink.

'I offered him a Wigan pie. He wouldn’t have it – he probably thought it had been poisoned.

'He had nothing, not even a glass of water. He brought his own water with him. So he just stood there in the corner.

'He went out to watch the match with six bodyguards around him. Afterwards he came back into the boardroom and said, ‘How long before I can go’

Put out: Wigan Chairman Dave Whelan says he has only shared six words with Abramovich in their years together in the Premier League

Put out: Wigan Chairman Dave Whelan says he has only shared six words with Abramovich in their years together in the Premier League

'I told him he would have to give it ten or 15 minutes to let the crowd go. Then he was back into the bulletproof car and off.

'Now, whenever I go to Chelsea I never see him. He never comes to say hello. Never.

'I do wonder sometimes, ‘We said hello to you at Wigan and offered you a pie. You should come and talk to us. Wish us luck now and again when we go to Chelsea’. It’s strange when you go to a club and don’t see the chairman.’

And Whelan, who himself is a self-made millionaire, says he is not a fan of Abramovich’s ruthless treatment of his managers, with Roberto Di Matteo’s head the latest to roll.

Winning away: Chelsea's Hernan Crespo scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea beat Wigan 1-0 in 2005

Winning away: Chelsea's Hernan Crespo scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea beat Wigan 1-0 in 2005

Making the trip: Abramovich watches his team at Wigan in 2005 alongside chairman Bruce Buck

Making the trip: Abramovich watches his team at Wigan in 2005 alongside chairman Bruce Buck

He added: 'I do envy the amount of money that the lad has put into Chelsea. But the lad they have sacked for strange reasons, no I’m not envious of that. He had to give Di Matteo a chance. He had no chance at all. Nine managers in nine years Is that what he’s had

'The crowd are frightened to death of having a go at him because they think he might walk away. And then Chelsea would go back to the way they were before.

'He’s put money into Chelsea, no question. And I think he’s put his heart and soul into it, too. But he’s got to realise you can’t win everything in football.

'If that was the case there would be no game. It wouldn’t be a sport.'

David Beckham too slow for Premier League, says Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez

Beckham can't cope with pace of Premier League, says Benitez as Chelsea manager takes swipe at former England captain

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UPDATED:

14:59 GMT, 30 November 2012

Interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez believes David Beckham will no longer be able to keep up with the pace of the Barclays Premier League.

The former England captain is on the lookout for a new club after announcing his decision to quit LA Galaxy following Saturday's MLS Cup final.

A host of clubs have expressed an interest in signing Beckham, with Queens Park Rangers leading the Premier League race to land the veteran midfielder.

Plenty to ponder: David Beckham is considering his next move as his time at LA Galaxy draws to an end

Plenty to ponder: David Beckham is considering his next move as his time at LA Galaxy draws to an end

Final farewell: David Beckham will play his last game for LA Galaxy this weekend

Final farewell: David Beckham will play his last game for LA Galaxy this weekend

Monaco are also interested in Beckham
and are poised to hold talks with the former Manchester United and Real
Madrid star next week.

But
one club where Beckham won't be heading is Chelsea after Benitez
appeared to rule out a move for the midfielder.

'I was watching some games in the MLS, analysing his team, and he was doing well. His crossing was very good,' said Benitez.

'I don't know if
he can cope now with the pace of the Premier League.'

Monaco were relegated in 2011 after suffering a steady decline in fortunes since appearing in the 2004 Champions League final, when they were beaten 3-0 by Jose Mourinho's Porto.

However, billionaire Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev bought a majority stake in Monaco in December 2011 and wants Beckham on board from January to inject some glamour into the club's attempts to win promotion.

No move: Benitez has questioned whether Beckham could cope with the Premier League

No move: Benitez has questioned whether Beckham could cope with the Premier League

Beckham may have reservations about the standard of football in France but life on the French Riviera may appeal to him and wife Victoria.

On Thursday night, Beckham spoke in LA ahead of Saturday's game but did not give much away about his future and would not comment on suggestions from new QPR boss Harry Redknapp that he may wish to take him to Loftus Road.

Beckham said: 'I'm lucky. At the age of 37 I've been offered some quite exciting options. I am flattered by some of the interest I have had. I always said I'd struggle to come back and play in England because I've played for the biggest club in the world and biggest club in England – Manchester United.

'So I couldn't see myself playing for any other Premier League club, but you never know. I do think I'll be spending more time in England, though, and it's good for our kids to see their grandparents.

Fun in the sun: Beckham could be tempted by a move to Monaco

Fun in the sun: Beckham could be tempted by a move to Monaco

'Over the last six years it's been
difficult not seeing them as much as we'd like and they'd like, but we
won't be leaving LA for good.

'What I am touched about is that I've got great managers – Harry
(Redknapp) and (Carlo) Ancelotti at PSG saying great things about me.

'They are not saying they would like to sign me but they are saying nice things about me.'

Meanwhile, Jermain Defoe has claimed Beckham would be welcomed at Tottenham with open arms if he decides to move back to England.

Spurs tried to sign the 37-year-old on loan last year and he ended up training with them during the MLS off-season.

Beckham has previously said he would not play for another Premier League club other than United. But former England team-mate Defoe told Absolute Radio's Rock 'N' Roll Football: 'He can come to Spurs if he wants – we'll have him here.

'He's a fantastic player and I think a credit to the game.

'If you talk about someone that's done everything in a game and to still want to play and still have another challenge and still want to achieve something, when you've achieved so much, I think that's a special person.

'He's someone that I look up to, a legend in the game.'

Silver lining: Beckham has the chance to win his second MLS Cup

Silver lining: Beckham has the chance to win his second MLS Cup

VIDEO: Becks talks about future ahead of his last MLS match

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