Roman Abramovich impact on Premier League like Sir Alex or Arsene Wenger says Patrick Vieira

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira says there’s no doubt Roman Abramovich will go down as one of the Premier League’s most influential figures akin to Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

The Russian billionaire has announced that he is looking to sell Chelsea as speculation grows over whether the UK Government will sanction him over alleged ties to Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich bought Chelsea in July 2003 and – thanks to his huge investment of over £2billion across the 19 years since then – has helped transform the Blues into a trophy-winning behemoth at the top of English football.

His money across 19 years of ownership changed the Premier League forever, with the top-flight now one of the most-watched sports leagues in the world and regularly signing huge financial packages with domestic and overseas broadcasters.

Just last year the Premier League contributed £7.6billion to the UK economy alone – more than the entire music industry – and during a pandemic in which many matches were held behind closed doors.

“I think he was part of those people you mentioned who helped the Premier League to grow,” said Vieira when asked if Abramovich should be remembered alongside Ferguson and Wenger as influential Premier League figures.

“He spent 20 years, 19 trophies and managed to bring some of the best players in the world to the Premier League.

“Regardless of what is going on, I strongly believe he was part of those people who helped the Premier League to be successful.”

Vieira also praised the Premier League for their statement released on Wednesday condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The league announced that all 20 club captains will wear special armbands in Ukrainian colours this weekend while there will be a moment of reflection before kick-off in each game.

The statement read: “The Premier League and our clubs wholeheartedly reject Russia’s actions and will be showing support for the people of Ukraine at all matches this weekend.

“We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted.

“A show of solidarity for Ukraine will be visible at all Premier League matches from Saturday 5 to Monday 7 March. This follows the numerous ways in which clubs have already demonstrated their support.”

Vieira last week called for leaders from across the world of sport to come together and use their influence to help push for peace in Ukraine, reinforcing that message in his press conference on Friday.

“We have a part to play and when I say we I meant the football community,” he added.

“I think this is a really strong statement to support what is going on around the world at the moment and especially in Ukraine.”

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