Roman's decade of dominance at Stamford Bridge

Posted by Kevin Palmer

Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea from Ken Bates in 2003GettyImagesRoman Abramovich bought Chelsea from Ken Bates in 2003

It was the deal that changed English football in an instant, and, as the 10th anniversary of Roman Abramovich's purchase of Chelsea edges closer, the true cost of his investment can be revealed for the first time.

July 2, 2003 was the date Chelsea banished their financial concerns to become one of the richest clubs in world football, with their transformation completed as a reclusive Russian billionaire opted to base his fantasy football team in west London after spurning the chance to set up camp on the other side of the capital at Tottenham.

"This is not about making money," Abramovich told the BBC on the day he took over Chelsea, in what is still the only major interview he has granted during his decade as one of the most powerful men in football.

"I have many much less risky ways of making money than this. I don't want to throw my money away, but it's really about having fun and that means success and trophies.

"I'm realising my dream of owning a top football club. Some will doubt my motives, others will think I'm crazy," Abramovich said of a sporting institution that was valued at a modest £59.3 million when he bought it from Ken Bates and agreed to take ownership of a potentially crippling £80 million debt.

Roll back to 2003 and you will find reports quoting senior British politicians, Chelsea supporters and the game's hierarchy all questioning the wisdom of welcoming a man of disputed pedigree into the Premier League. Yet few could have predicted the size of Abramovich's impact on English football.

Bates said at the time that Abramovich promised to invest "at least £30 million" into Chelsea's transfer kitty and fund a much-needed training ground to replace the Blues' windswept and outdated facilities near Heathrow Airport. Yet his impatient ambition inspired him to spend four times that in his first summer of player trading alone, as he set about positioning his newly acquired football club among Europe's elite.

In essence, the Russian oligarch decided to rescue a failing business and turn it into one of the most recognisable sporting brands in the world with the weight of his wallet, which should ensure he gets a return on his investment if he ever decides to sell the club on to another wealthy investor.

The saying often went that only a fool would invest in a football club. But Abramovich has transformed Chelsea from a club in negative equity to a global brand worth as much as £1 billion thanks to its newly acquired sporting status, the real estate value of Stamford Bridge, not to mention the club's lavish training base in leafy Surrey.

The Premier League landscape was redesigned the day Abramovich came knocking on Chelsea's door, with this detailed account of his investments confirming no stone has been left unturned in what has been a successful bid to transform a club with a modest history into a European powerhouse.

2003-04: So the story begins

Achievements: Champions League semi-final, 2nd in Premier League

Top scorer: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (18)

Signings (in millions): Hernan Crespo (Inter Milan £16.8), Claude Makelele (Real Madrid £16), Adrian Mutu (Parma £15.8), Juan Sebastian Veron (Manchester United £15), Scott Parker (Charlton £10), Geremi (Real Madrid £7), Wayne Bridge (Southampton £7), Joe Cole (West Ham £6.6), Glen Johnson (West Ham £6), Alexey Smertin (Bordeaux £3.45), Neil Suillivan (Tottenham £0.5)

Total spend: £121.15 million

Player sales: Graeme Le Saux (Southampton £500,000)

Joe Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron were two of the first signings Chelsea made in the Abramovich era
AssociatedJoe Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron were two of the first signings Chelsea made in the Abramovich era

Abramovich's statement of intent in the summer of 2003 could not have been more impressive, with the expensive signings of Veron, Crespo and Duff transforming the club's fortunes in an instant. Agent Pini Zahavi was prominent in both Abramovich's purchase of the club and several of his early deals, with his willingness to pay fees in full up front as opposed to staggered payments, often making offers impossible to resist.

Even though likeable Italian boss Claudio Ranieri guided the club to the Champions League semi-finals and a second-place finish in the league, he was sacked at the end of the season as Abramovich and CEO Peter Kenyon were wooed by the charms of young Porto boss Jose Mourinho, who had just led his team to the Champions League title.

2004-05: The 'Special One' arrives

Achievements: Premier League champions, League Cup winners, Champions League semi-final

Top scorer: Frank Lampard (19)

Signings (in millions): Didier Drogba (Marseille £24), Ricardo Carvalho (Porto £19.85), Paulo Ferreira (Porto £13.2), Arjen Robben (PSV Eindhoven £12), Thiago (Benfica £10), Petr Cech (Rennes £7.1), Mateja Kezman (PSV Eindhoven £5.3), Jiri Jarosik (CSKA Moscow £3)

Total spend: £94.35 million

Player sales: Jesper Gronkjaer (Birmingham £2.2 million)

John Terry is congratulated by Abramovich after securing Chelsea's first Premier League title in 50 years
GettyImagesJohn Terry is congratulated by Abramovich after securing Chelsea's first Premier League title in 50 years

Few who were present will never forget the arrogance and confidence a fresh-faced and brash Mourinho brought to Chelsea as he faced the media for the first time at Stamford Bridge. His 'Special One' pronouncement is one of the defining statements of the Premier League era.

He backed up his confidence with success, leading Chelsea to their first Premier League title in half a century after collecting the League Cup three months earlier. The Champions League semi-final defeat via the 'ghost goal' at Anfield was a low point, though.

2005-06: Confirmation of dominance

Achievements: Premier League title, FA Cup semi-finals

Top scorer: Frank Lampard (20)

Signings (in millions): Michael Essien (Lyon £24.4), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City £21), Asier Del Horno (Athletic Bilbao £12), Lassana Diarra (Le Havre £1)

Total spend: £58.4 million

Player sales (in millions): Tiago (Lyon £6.8), Scott Parker (Newcastle £6.5), Mateja Kezman (Atletico Madrid £5.3), Mikael Forssell (Birmingham £3), Alexey Smertin (Dynamo Moscow £1)

Retaining the Premier League title is often hailed as an even more imposing challenge than winning it the first time, and Mourinho's Chelsea accomplished that feat as they fended off the challenge of Manchester United in the club's centenary season.

Their last-16 exit in the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona was laced with controversy, with Swedish referee Anders Frisk retiring after his contentious handling of the tie sparked a storm of protest and accusation from an irate Mourinho.

2006-07: The first cracks appear

Achievements: Second in Premier League; FA Cup and League Cup winners, Champions League semi-finals

Top scorer: Didier Drogba (33)

Signings (in millions): Andrey Shevchenko (AC Milan £30), John Obi Mikel (Lyn Oslo £16), Salomon Kalou (Feyenoord £9), Khalid Boulahrouz (Hamburg £8.5), Ashley Cole (Arsenal £5, plus William Gallas), Michael Ballack (free)

Total spend: £68.5 million

Player sales (in millions): Eidur Gudjohnsen (Barcelona £8), Asier Del Horno (Valencia £7), Robert Huth (Middlesborough £6), Damien Duff (Newcastle £5), Carlton Cole (West Ham £3), Jiri Jarosik (Celtic £2), William Gallas (Arsenal, part of Ashley Cole deal)

Abramovich had long pined to see his favourite player in a Chelsea shirt and he turned the dream into reality by signing Shevchenko for a club-record fee, yet Mourinho didn't seem comfortable with the arrival of a player who unsettled his winning unit.

Another run to the Champions League semi-finals papered over the cracks that were beginning to appear behind the scenes, with newspapers regularly running reports focusing on the spats between Mourinho and club officials. He still finished the season with a domestic cup double.

2007-08: Mourinho sacked, Moscow agony

Achievements: Champions League runners-up, 2nd in Premier League, League Cup runners-up.

Top scorer: Frank Lampard (20)

Signings (in millions): Nicolas Anelka (Bolton £15), Florent Malouda (Lyon £13.5), Branislav Ivanovic (Lokomotiv Moscow £9.7), Juliano Belletti (Barcelona £5).

Total spend: £43.2 million

Player sales (in millions): Arjen Robben (Real Madrid £21), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth £4)

Chelsea lost to Manchester United on penalties in the 2008 Champions League final
PA PhotosChelsea lost to Manchester United on penalties in the 2008 Champions League final

Mourinho's future at Chelsea was the subject of heated discussion when Abramovich planted Avram Grant in the club's coaching set-up against his wishes. A sluggish season start signalled the end of the most colourful and successful managerial reign in Stamford Bridge history.

It quickly became clear that Grant, installed as a short-term successor, did not have Mourinho's magnetic trophy collecting skills, but the Blues came within a solitary kick of Champions League glory in a rain-soaked final in Moscow. John Terry's missed penalty handed Manchester United European glory and another Blues manager bit the dust as a result.

2008-09: Hiddink to the rescue

Achievements: FA Cup winners, Champions League semi-finals

Top scorer: Nicolas Anelka (25)

Signings (in millions): Jose Bosingwa (Porto £16.2), Deco (Barcelona £7.9), Gokhan Tore (Bayer Leverkusen £0.5)

Total spend: £24.6 million

Player sales (in millions): Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City £9), Steve Sidwell (Aston Villa £5), Tal Ben Haim (Manchester City £5), Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart £3.9)

Those of us who were invited to meet new Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari were enchanted by the charm and charisma of the latest manager to be handed a lucrative contract by Abramovich.

Yet it was not long before we were writing his Chelsea obituaries, as his inability to relate to the Premier League saw him sacked in February and replaced with Guus Hiddink until the end of the season. A contentious Champions League semi-final defeat against Barcelona was partly compensated by an FA Cup final win against Everton.

2009-10: Calling Carlo

Achievements: Premier League champions, FA Cup winners

Top scorer: Didier Drogba (37)

Signings (in millions): Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow £18), Daniel Sturridge (Manchester City £6.5), Nemanja Matic (MFK Kosice £1.5)

Total spend: £26 million

Player sales: Claudio Pizarro (£10 Werder Bremen), Ben Sahar (Espanyol £0.85), Andrey Shevchenko (Dynamo Kiev free)

Despite leading Chelsea to their first Premier League and FA Cup double, the word emerging from the Blues boardroom suggested there was only moderate acclaim flowing in Carlo Ancelotti's direction after his debut season as the club's manager.

Abramovich had hired Ancelotti to bring the Champions League glory he craved and a humbling last-16 defeat against Mourinho's Inter Milan was seen as a source of humiliation for some at the club. Must do better, was the unenviable end-of-term report for the amiable Ancelotti.

2010-11: Time for another change

Achievements: Second in Premier League, Champions League quarter-finals.

Top scorer: Nicolas Anelka (16)

Signings (in millions): Fernando Torres (Liverpool £50), David Luiz (Benfica £21), Ramires (Benfica £17), Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool £5.5), Tomas Kalas (Sigma Olomouc £5.2), Matej Delac (Inter Zapresic £2.7)

Total spend: £101.4 million

Player sales (in millions): Ricardo Carvalho (Real Madrid £6.7), Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce £4.95) Franco Di Santo (Wigan £2), Scott Sinclair (Swansea £0.5)

Failure to win a trophy is a sackable offence in the eyes of Abramovich and just a year after he led the club to their first domestic double, Ancelotti paid the price for his inability to build on the success of the previous year and was sacked moments after the club's final game at Everton.

Lumbered with a misfiring Torres for the second half of the season, Ancelotti's Champions League failure against Manchester United was viewed as the primary reason why Abramovich lost patience.

2011-12: AVB's brief sleepover, ultimate glory

Achievements: Champions League winners, FA Cup winners

Top scorer: Frank Lampard (16)

Signings (in millions): Juan Mata (Valencia £23.5), Romelu Lukaku (Anderlecht £13), Raul Meireles (Liverpool £12), Thibaut Courtois (Racing Genk £7), Gary Cahill (Bolton £7), Kevin de Bruyne (Racing Genk £6.7), Lucas Piazon (Sao Paulo £5), Oriol Romeu (Barcelona £3.75) Ulises Davila (Guadalajara £1.75), Patrick Bamford (Nottingham Forest £1.5)

Total spend: £81.2 million

Player sales (in millions): Yuri Zhirkov (Anzhi Makhachkala £13), Alex (PSG £4.2), Michael Mancienne (Hamburg £3), Nicolas Anelka (free)

Chelsea finally fulfilled Abramovich's dream by winning the Champions League in 2012
GettyImagesChelsea finally fulfilled Abramovich's dream by winning the Champions League in 2012

Andre Villas-Boas was hired to start a new era at Chelsea and take on the huge personalities who had dominated the Blues dressing room during the most successful spell in the club's history.

The inevitability of his failure to oust the Chelsea 'old guard' was the only certainty of a season that ended in the most unexpected fashion imaginable. Few saw Champions League and FA Cup glory coming when Roberto Di Matteo took over as caretaker boss, but he duly delivered.

2012-13: Confusion, acrimony, triumph

Achievements: Europa League winners, FA Cup semi-finalists

Top scorer: Fernando Torres (23)

Signings (in millions): Eden Hazard (Lille £35.2), Oscar (Internacional £19.35), Cesar Azpilicueta (Marseille £7.5 million), Victor Moses (Wigan £7 million), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen £7 million), Demba Ba (Newcastle £7), Thorgen Hazard (Lille £0.85)

Total spend: £83.9 million

Player sales (in millions): Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool £12), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce £8)

The delay in handing Champions League-winning manager Di Matteo a full-time contract confirmed that his paymasters were never convinced that he was the right man for the job and the moment his side stumbled, another Chelsea manager was shoved through the exit door.

Rafael Benitez's unpopular appointment may have reaped rewards with a third-place finish and a Europa League win, yet this was a fractious and unpleasant season for the club.

Managerial payoffs

Abramovich has hired and fired a glut of high-profile managers in the last decade, with the bill for his managerial impatience adding up to quite a fee.

-Claudio Ranieri (Sacked June 2004, payoff £3 million)
-Jose Mourinho (Compensation to sign from Porto £1.7 million in June 2004, sacked September 2007, payoff £18 million)
-Avram Grant (Sacked May 2008, payoff £5 million)
-Luiz Felipe Scolari (sacked February 2009, payoff £12.6 million)
-Carlo Ancelotti (sacked May 2011, payoff £6 million)
-Andre Villas-Boas (Compensation to sign from Porto £13.3 million in June 2011, sacked February 2012, pay-off £12 million)
-Roberto Di Matteo (Sacked November 2012, payoff £3 million)

BILL: £74.6 million
(*-There are also unaccounted sums paid to coaching staff of each former Chelsea manager)

Roman turning debt into equity

Abramovich's investment in Chelsea has not stopped with player signings and managerial payoffs. He has also wiped out the club's debt of £340 million, with his move to convert the interest-free loans he gave to the club into equity in 2009 and again in 2012.

Suspicions were raised at the move, which was viewed by some as a backdoor route for Abramovich to invest more money in a company that would yield more profit were it to be sold in the future as a debt-free company.

Chelsea major trophies with Abramovich: 11

Champions League: 2012
Europa League: 2013
Premier League: 2004-05, 2005-06, 2009-10
FA Cup: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012
League Cup: 2005, 2007

Chelsea major trophies before Abramovich: 8

European Cup Winners' Cup: 1971, 1998
European Super Cup: 1998
First Division: 1954-55
FA Cup: 1970, 1997, 2000
League Cup: 1965

The final bill

Transfer fees: £702.7 million
Player sales: £174.5 million
Managerial purchases/pay-offs: £74.6 million
Removal of Chelsea's debts: £340 million

TOTAL SPENT: £942.8 million

ESPN Conversations