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football focus

Pomp and circumstance

FOLLOWING IN the footsteps of Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, the Premiership has its second Russian multi-millionaire owner, Alexandre “Sasha” Gaydamak, at Portsmouth.

The 29-year-old son of flamboyant billionaire businessman, Arkady Gayadamak, has bought a 50 per cent share in the south coast club and immediately made 15 million euros available to strengthen Harry Redknapp’s squad. The manager acted promptly. The troublesome Laurent Robert has been shipped out on a free transfer to Benfica, where the 30-year-old former Newcastle winger has signed a three-and-a-half year contract.

Nigerian born Polish striker Emmanuel Olisadebe has arrived on loan from Panathinaikos and a club record six million euros has secured the services of Auxerre’s Zimbabwe international Mwarawair Benjani. More money looks set to flow, but where does it come from? Gayadamak junior professes to be his own man, but he will find it difficult to distance himself from his father’s colourful past.

Wanted in France on tax evasion charges, Arkady Gayadamak was also interrogated by Israeli police for seven hours last week over 40 million euro money-laundering allegations. Questionable arms deals in Africa have prompted previous inquiries – Sasha is on the board, but is his financial clout above board?