As Abrahamovic comes under fire from Chelsea fans, Wigan chief says he turned up in bulletproof car
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
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
‘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
‘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
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.’