Mark Taylor, former Chelsea director, explained that the Russian businessman was in talks to buy the Blues rival London club, Tottenham, before he took control at Stamford Bridge.
Abramovich had gone to see Levy the day before he met with Chelsea’s chairman Ken Bates with his colleague Eugene Tenenbaum but the Spurs chairman tried to sell him short after he wanted a majority stake.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich rejected Spurs before buying control at Stamford Bridge
He met with Daniel Levy who tried to sell him just 29.9% stake despite wanting control
‘The key point was that when Ken met Roman and Eugene Tenenbaum they made it very clear that they wanted to buy control,’ Taylor explained to The Athletic.
‘I think the story is they had seen Daniel Levy the previous day and he’d tried to sell them 29.9 per cent of Tottenham but they didn’t want a minority stake, they wanted control.’
The decision ended up working wonders in Chelsea’s favour, as Abramovich took charge in June 2003 and immediately they improved on and off the pitch.
‘Chelsea had been looking for investors for about 18 months and we’d had a lot of time-wasters and Roman seemed viable,’ Taylor added.
‘Nobody really knew who he was – and so on the Friday morning his lawyers brought in Forbes magazine from America and I think he was No 15 on the list with X billion dollars, which seemed to be quite a good starting point.’
Taylor revealed Ken Bates was happy to sell the club as he felt he had ‘gone as far as he could’
Ken Bates, who was chairman of Chelsea and gave control over to Abramovich, was happy to sell the club as Taylor explained that Bates felt he ‘had taken the club as far as he could’ and the transition was a smooth one.
‘I think he has said on record since that he felt he had done all he could, Taylor told the Straight Outta Cobham podcast.
‘He saved the club being evicted from Stamford Bridge and by this time we had redeveloped the whole of the Bridge.
‘That was one of the big reasons Roman liked Chelsea. It was in a good condition, fairly new with good facilities and that was very important to him. I think Ken felt he had taken it as far as he could. That’s why he decided to sell.’
He wasted no time getting the deal done as Taylor joked his bank account went into frenzy
Taylor admitted he was impressed by the ‘shy’ Abramovich who wasted no time at all in getting the deal done.
‘He was a very shy individual but he seemed perfectly pleasant and his team were impressive,’ he continued. ‘They were talking a good story that came to fruition with the players they bought that summer.
‘We completed on Tuesday night around 9:30pm and by that stage it was too late to transfer the money. Roman would send me the money the next day but my bank account went into all sorts of worry when £60million hit my client account!’
He joked: ‘I then rang Ken and said ‘I’m just ringing to say goodbye’, he replied ‘What do you mean?’ and I said ‘I just got £60million in my bank account, I’m in a taxi going to the airport, which he didn’t find very funny initially.’
The club have improved and won 13 major trophies since Abramovich took control
Since the 53-year-old’s reign at Stamford Bridge, the club have won 13 major trophies including five Premier League titles, the UEFA Champions League and others.
It was believed that the club were on the verge of bankruptcy before Abramovich came in and saved the day for Chelsea. However, Taylor revealed the club were more secure than many thought.
‘By qualifying for the Champions League you got a guaranteed amount of income and I think at the time the cash flow showed that we would have been debt-free by the following April.
‘Other than our secure bond issue, so we weren’t on the verges of bankruptcy as everyone seems to think we were.’