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

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Roman Abramovich, Chelsea owner celebrates his side winning the league after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 21: Roman Abramovich, Chelsea owner celebrates his side winning the league after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017, in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

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.

Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich applauds, as players celebrate their league title win at the end of the Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 21, 2017. Chelsea's extended victory parade reached a climax with the trophy presentation on May 21, 2017 after being crowned Premier League champions with two games to go. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL / Getty Images
Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich applauds, as players celebrate their league title win at the end of the Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 21, 2017. Chelsea’s extended victory parade reached a climax with the trophy presentation on May 21, 2017, after being crowned Premier League champions with two games to go. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL / Getty Images

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.

This article was first published on 7 January, 2019

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.