Investigation of ex-Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's ties to Vitesse leads to 18-point deduction, relegation



Dutch club Vitesse has been docked 18 points by the independent licensing committee of the Dutch Football Association (KNFB) due to repeatedly failing to meet the requirements of licensing regulations. It’s a record deduction from the KNFB, and one that places Vitesse at the bottom of the Eredivisie with -1 points with only four matches remaining, sealing relegation for the club where American Paxten Aaronson is currently on loan. 

In a statement released following the sanctions, Vitesse announced that they would not appeal the points deduction.

“A points penalty had been hanging over the club’s head for some time. After having previously received a fine of 100,000 euros – for failure to report the termination of the banking relationship by Revolut – such a punishment seemed unavoidable,” the club statement said. “After all, the club was unable to meet certain licensing requirements. For example, Vitesse did not submit the half-yearly figures correctly, acted incorrectly with regard to ING Bank and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and the Wladimiroff report was unable to demonstrate whether or not there are connections between Vitesse and Roman Abramovich.”

These may not be the only sanctions either as the licensing committee will assess other possible violations as well following receipt of more information from Vitesse. There has also been a restructuring plan submitted by the club who have tumbled down Dutch soccer over the past few years after just playing in the Europa Conference League in March of 2022. For now, Vitesse will retain its license to operate as a club but depending on the restructuring plan being approved by the KNFB, that could change in the future.

Head coach Phillip Cocu resigned as coach in November and the club is winless in their last seven matches since defeating Excelsior to close out February. 

Long standing questions around Vitesse ownership

Vitesse has had ties to Chelsea for close to 20 years, since the London club was operated under Roman Abramovich. Vitesse was the frequent destination for Chelsea loanees with players such as Mason Mount spending time there to gain experience. With the sanctions imposed on Abramovich and the sale of Chelsea after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there were then reports that Abramovich secretly funded the Dutch club with more than €117 million. 

The Guardian reported that despite the KNFB being unable to uncover a link between Abromavich and Vitesse in prior investigations, documentation leaked by a Cyprus-based offshore service provider MeritSerus revealed the secret funding from Abramovich for the takeover of Vitesse. 

There is a current investigation led by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate into Abramovich’s ties with the club but that investigation is led by a different area than the one imposing the points deduction.

“Because the ministry monitors compliance with the sanctions, it is not up to the licensing committee to determine whether there are conflicting ties with Abramovich,” The KNFB said in a statement. “The licensing committee concludes from the investigation report by Wladimiroff Advocaten that there are indications that Abramovich has or has had control over Vitesse and that there are risks of violation of sanctions and money laundering and therefore considers it important to await the ministry’s investigation.”

In regards to the restructuring plan, the KNFB is awaiting amendments from the club which will determine the future of Vitesse.





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