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Sep. 04, 2006
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Patarkatsishvili Follows Abramovich's Example
// And buys a soccer team
England will soon have yet another Russian soccer club. Badri Patarkatsishvili and Boris Berezovsky may join Roman Abramovich, who bought Chelsea three years ago, as club owners. It is possible that one or both of them are behind the acquisition of the London West Ham. If all goes well, the club will be sold for £100 million.
On Saturday, the board of directors of West Ham informed the London Stock Exchange that it had received a purchased offer. Later it was revealed that the potential buyer is Kia Jurabchian, head of the Media Sports Investment company. That company is known for its close connection with the Brazilian Corinthians. Jurabchian made an attempt to buy West Ham last year for £70 million. His offer was refused. His new offer also involves £70 million. The remaining money will consist of the club's debts, which the new owner will take on. Jurabchian declined to confirm his interest in the club, but commented that West Ham may become even more powerful than Chelsea.

The first sign that something may be afoot at West Ham came on August 31, when the club signed at the very last minute contracts with possibly the two most promising soccer players in the world, Argentine national team players Carlos Teves and Javier Mascherano. The Argentines' choice was curious, since they could have joined much more successful clubs. Arsenal was prepared to sign them. West Ham prefers to buy young talent for resale. The value of those deals was never made public, even unofficially, but it probably would be the equivalent of all the club's assets and be impossible for it without outside help.

It is also unclear where Jurabchian found the funds for the purchase of West Ham, much less promote it. Sources close to Jurabchian say that he is counting on money of Russian origin, specifically from Patarkatsishvili or Berezovsky. Berezovsky denies any involvement in the deal. Patarkatsishvili declined to confirm his involvement, but said that anything is possible. Jurabchian commented to The Sun newspaper that I have never done business with Boris Berezovsky, although I consider him my friend. In 1999, however, Jurabchian was involved in a deal that later turned out to be Berezovsky's. Jurabchian was presented to the staff of Kommersant Publishing House as the company's new owner. Later it was revealed that Berezovsky was the owner of the company's stock.

On the other hand, Patarkatsishvili may be hiding his involvement in the deal until he disposes of his other soccer assets. He is the owner of Tbilisi Dynamo. UEFA and FIFA do not look kindly on the possession of more than one club. It will be necessary to reveal the name of the real owner of West Ham. FIFA is already investigating the deal.
Afsati Dzhusoiti

All the Article in Russian as of Sep. 04, 2006

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