Roman Abramovich’s 2003 takeover of Chelsea proved a watershed moment in the history of the west London club.
With the backing of the Russian billionaire’s vast wealth, the Blues went on to achieve both domestic and European glory on multiple occasions doing his near 18-year reign at Stamford Bridge.
According to the Daily Mail, though, things might have been very different indeed had Abramovich not been ‘warned off’ buying another top-flight side.
Initially, when searching for a Premier League club to purchase, Abramovich was actually said to be interested in buying Arsenal.
As part of research for their book ‘The Club’, former Wall Street Journal writers Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson interviewed a number of former Premier League executives.
It was during one of those interviews that it was revealed that Abramovich had mistakenly been told that the Gunners were ‘categorically not for sale’ by staff from Swiss bank UBS.
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In truth, Arsenal might well have been available (for the right price) but, having been discouraged, Abramovich took his interest elsewhere.
He would eventually purchase Chelsea for £140 million a short time later.
Of course, had Abramovich taken over at the Emirates rather than Stamford Bridge, English football history would likely have been forever altered.
Down the years, there have been several other rumoured takeovers that might have had that same effect if they had been completed – and we’ve decided to take a look back at them below.
Some of these were very much serious enquires, others ultimately turned out to be little more than speculation.
Football’s craziest rumoured takeovers that didn’t happen
Sky TV wanted to buy Manchester United in 1998
Back at the turn of the century, there was concern that Premier League clubs were on the verge of opting out of selling their television rights as a collective group.
Teams were instead believed to be keen on auctioning off their home games to the highest bidder on an individual basis.
It didn’t happen, but Sky was certainly taking the threat seriously.
Per FourFourTwo, Sky boss Rupert Murdoch didn’t want to risk losing access to the biggest team in the country at the time and so launched a £623.4m bid to buy the club.
It was accepted too, before the deal was blocked by the Department of Trade and Industry over the affect it would have on competition between broadcasters.
Had Murdoch been allowed to proceed with his offer, it’s highly unlikely that the Glazer family would have bought into the club a few years later.
Michael Knighton was forced to withdraw offer to buy Man Utd in 1989
Knighton was so confident his £20m acquisition of the Red Devils would go through that he put on a full United kit and started doing keepy-ups on the pitch at Old Trafford.
Clips of this soon made their way to the investors who were backing the deal. They withdrew their funds shortly after and Knighton’s dreams of becoming chairman were dashed.
The businessman still fancies the role, though, popping up earlier this week to insist he is still working on a bid to buy the club from the Glazers.
It’ll cost you a fair bit more than £20m this time around, Michael.
Video: Michael Knighton dons full Man Utd kit on Old Trafford pitch after ‘completing’ takeover
Billionaire Michael Dell was linked with League One Sunderland in 2019
When Dell – the 25th richest man in the world at the time according to Forbes – was reported to be interested in taking over at the Black Cats, supporters rejoiced.
Talk of a return to the Premier League and potential Champions League football soon followed from an excited fan base.
However, the speculation soon fizzled out. The club were later able to secure a loan from Dell. Unfortunately, it was only for £9m – hardly money that’s going to take you from the EFL to the Champions League in a hurry!
Former US president Donald Trump looked into buying Rangers in 2012
With the Glasgow club in deep financial trouble in the early 2010s, assistance almost came in the most unlikely of forms.
Trump, who has Scottish heritage on his mother’s side of the family, actually looked into taking over at Ibrox before ultimately deciding not to invest.
Responding to reports on the matter, a statement from Trump’s spokesperson at the time read:
“We looked seriously and walked away.
“It just did not make sense to us, although they are a great club.
“We hope someone steps in and builds the team again.”
Rangers slipped into administration a short while later, but have bounced back to achieve success domestically and in Europe.
Within five years, Trump would become the 45th President of the United States so it’s fair to say his opportunities to attend matches might have been severely limited in any case!
West Ham Red Bulls?
The Red Bull Group already has a considerable presence in the world of sport, boasting the likes of Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig, New York Red Bulls and F1 teams Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso under their ownership.
The group is clearly fond of renaming teams after it acquires them, which makes you wonder what they would have tried to do to West Ham had they been successful in a 2016 takeover bid.
Keen to establish a presence in the Premier League and impressed by the Hammers’ London Stadium home base, Red Bull launched a £650m bid for the east London club.
Their interest didn’t last long, though, as the bid was turned down flat according to Bleacher Report.
WWE founder Vince McMahon was repeatedly linked with buying Newcastle United
Following their acquisition by a Saudi-led consortium last year, Newcastle now officially have the richest owners of any football club in the world.
During the reign of former owner Mike Ashley, however, the club was frequently the subject of takeover rumours.
One of the strangest of these concerned WWE founder, Vince McMahon.
Nothing ever came of the reports, which surfaced on multiple occasions.
That didn’t stop fans from having fun speculating about the possibility of the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania taking place at St. James’ Park, though.
Gerard Pique failed in bid to buy Notts County in 2019
Through his Kosmos Global Holding group, Barcelona defender Pique has a hand in a number of ventures – and tried to add Notts County to his portfolio three years ago.
Per a report from ESPN, only an unpaid tax bill stopped Pique from getting his hands on County, who are officially recognised as the world’s oldest Football League club.
Seeing Pique in the stands at a National League game would have been highly surreal – and it was close to becoming a reality.
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