From Russia with Love?

Last updated : 04 January 2006 By Jim Bonner

In case anyone’s still recovering from the New Year celebrations and missed all the headlines, Milan has reached a verbal agreement to sell 50% of his shares for £15m to Alexandre Gaydamak, a 30-year-old Russian businessman.

But don’t let memories and comparisons of Terry Venables’ ill-fated regime become apparent. Always the optimist I truly believe this looks like a deal that could really benefit the club and we can look to brighter times, but I’ve got reservations.

Firstly the £100m to spend on players. If we take the media reports at face value its Gaydamak snr that has the money. With his dad’s fortune reported at £1billion, that’s serious pocket money and he’s stated that the venture is Alexandre’s idea and won’t pay for it with his own money. I think a transfer kitty of £15-20m over the next couple of seasons is more likely. Also if he’s putting that much money on the table I reckon a large percentage will go towards the new stadium and training facilities to protect his investment.

Secondly, we also know the mindset of Milan as far as the interests of Pompey go. What would happen if Gaydamak decides that things should be done differently? We are also more than familiar that the club is run Milan’s way or no-way. Coupled with how much the press enjoy Pompey disputes this could be easy fodder for every sports journo across the country.

On the upside, Alexandre is based in London and has been quoted as being “crazy” about football. It seems a bit more sincere than the Glazers love for soccer and his father Arcadi owns Beitar Jerusalem, so hopefully there’s a few links that could get in some quality players. And I’m sure Milan wouldn’t sell us out to a businessman. Or would he?

Just brace yourself for the next few weeks of the tabloid hacks digging up as much dirt as possible on the Gaydamak family. To warn you now, Arcadi has been embroiled (and cleared) of money laundering by the Isreali police and in 2000 he was the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by Paris magistrates investigating alleged arms-for-oil deal with Angola in the early 1990s (which he denies).

But does anyone else remember what happened when a certain Mr Abramovich wanted to buy Chelsea? The stories, the rumours, the fears. We’ve had decades living on the breadline so isn’t it our time to sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m just worried what Harry would do with £10m let alone £100m.