Not-so-red Rom lives out a fantasy

WHY do certain newspapers persist in styling Roman Abramovich "Red Rom"? If Russia were still red, he would not have been able to accumulate a fortune which makes him allegedly the world's 49th richest man.

WHY do certain newspapers persist in styling Roman Abramovich "Red Rom"? If Russia were still red, he would not have been able to accumulate a fortune which makes him allegedly the world's 49th richest man.

Abramovich's personal wealth has been estimated at as much as £3.8billion. Not bad for a poor orphan who was only in his early 20s when Communism collapsed and his mate Boris Yeltsin came to power.

He is also, since 2000, governor of the desolate, frozen province of Chukotka. His 92 per cent share of the vote there sounds almost like a Soviet election – but he has repaid the voters' faith by spending up to £180million of his own dosh to give them such luxuries as hotels, cinemas and supermarkets.

His purchase of Chelsea FC – and the expenditure of £75m and rising on players – is just a hobby.

Yet that transfer pot is more than the combined total of all other purchases by Premiership clubs this summer. And it may not be over yet.

While many fans will be glad of anything that might break the Man U-Arsenal strangehold, others will hope for evidence that you can't buy instant success, at whatever price.

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Meanwhile, those in places like Ipswich (or George Burley's Derby) will be casting very envious eyes towards Stamford Bridge.

What might Joe Royle do with the price of just one Adrian Mutu or Seba Veron?

Mind you, the hard-working public officials in Chukotka may be feeling a bit aggrieved too. While their governor plays Fantasy Football in England, they haven't been paid for months.


FOOTBALLERS and their managers have a very special way with English. The speed with which metaphors become cliches – and then stick – is as much a feature of the game as the offside trap.

TV and radio commentators are often perpetrators of this peculiar football-speak, though seldom add anything of value to it. The wonderful Ron Atkinson, who has been both manager and pundit, deserves a chair in English for his creativity with the language.

No one since Dickens, surely, has given more bizarre phrases to the common speech.

What on earth does it mean, for example, to set your stall out? If you do it at Portman Road, are you taking part in the Sunday morning boot sale? (And if you are, whose boots are you selling? Oh, never mind…)

But when it comes to giving those metaphors a thoroughly good mix, you really need a journalist.

Take a look at this splendid example from another newspaper this week: "Just as one door closes so another cracks open and the Blues keeper who has been frozen out at Portman Road has been told by his agent another club has entered the fray but nothing concrete has been sorted out."

Phew. You can take a breath now.

What interests me is whether, having been frozen out, Andy Marshall now finds himself in hot water.

He does appear to be treading water in his career right now – though I suspect he may have some irons in the fire, which he is keeping close to his chest.

In which case, a dip in that freezing water might be very welcome. Ssssssssssssss!


I TOUCHED a common nerve last week when I wrote of a remedy for calming hysterical dogs. The unpleasant effect of fireworks on sensitive pets is familiar in many families.

Several people have phoned or emailed me to ask where they can get Rescue Remedy. Without naming names, I can say it is available in at least one chemist and at least one health food shop in Ipswich.

Of course, a better remedy would be for the idiots who let off fireworks at all times of the year to stop. But while they remain on sale to the public, that's not going to happen.


IT'S a stock story of all local newspapers – the letter from the council / gas company / Inland Revenue / bank [delete as applicable] to someone who's dead. But Leeds City Council has come up with a new twist on the theme.

They wrote to Moira Thoms (d. 2000) ordering her to clean up her own grave.

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