Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is the “best thing to ever happen to the Premier League” – that’s the verdict of football super-agent Jonathan Barnett, who counts Welsh supremo Gareth Bale among his galaxy of clients.
Abramovich has pumped in countless millions since assuming control of the cash-strapped West London club in 2003, delivering a two-decade spell of (mostly) success during that time which has seen Chelsea claim five Premier League trophies, a Champions League title and numerous domestic cups.
The success under Abramovich’s rule has seen the club assume a seat at European football’s top table but, more than that, it has initiated an era of big-money investment into various Premier League clubs which has gone a long way to establishing the English top flight as the widely-accepted best league in the world football.
Speaking about a proposal to introduce a “salary cap” in the Championship – the second tier of English football – super-agent Barnett warned it would lead to financial uncertainty for dozens of clubs, as well as essentially ruling out the type of big-money investment in clubs which can boost the league as a whole.
“Abramovich has done a great job,” Barnett told the Mirror. “When he came in, Chelsea were going broke, the league was struggling.
“He put money into Chelsea, gave money to other clubs and transformed the game and you could have the same in the Championship but for these rules.
“Abramovich was the best thing to ever happen to the Premier League. It’s now the best league in the world and yet it’s a terrible trait in England that we build things up to knock them down.”
Watching some clubs can’t even pay 30m for a CB makes me love Roman Abramovich even more.Chelsea FC fans are truly blessed to have him.My owner 💙👑 pic.twitter.com/H0Xh4l0vJQ
— Cfc Rafe🇵🇰 (@10_raffay) February 1, 2021
Barnett, who counts the likes of on-loan Spurs star Bale and England midfielder Jack Grealish amongst his clients, elaborated further on the potential pitfalls facing English football as a result of Brexit – the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, which he describes as an “the biggest” existential threat to the future of British football.
“Look at Wolves,” said Barnett. “They’ve been so successful and yet would they get in now?
“There are players who could have saved West Brom but they can’t get work permits. I truly believe European players have helped British players so much.
“I’m telling you – the young British players are the best of my lifetime and that’s because they’ve been brought up and learned from the best. If you reduce the standard, you damage other players.”