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New questions raised about Chelsea - Vitesse partnership

Chelsea has been more involved with Vitesse than we originally thought, according to a very well-researched feature from Voetbal International's Stef de Bont.

De Bont obtained countless e-mails from an unnamed source (likely Merab Jordania) ranging from July 2010 through January 2011, and even with the extreme unreliability of the ousted caretaker owner (who was banned from Vitesse after threatening to cut off the fingers of CEO Joost de Wit), new details have been brought to light about the relationship between Chelsea and Vitesse.

For example, Chelsea director Eugene Tenenbaum appears to have been actively involved in getting the paperwork squared away for Merab Jordania to present to the KNVB (Dutch FA).

De Bont also goes into extraordinary detail on how Vitesse was purchased, from the specific timeline to the amount of money involved and the name of the law firm hired to review the paperwork.

The funds from the sale came from an account in the Virgin Islands belonging to Alexander Chigirinsky, who opened the account in June 2010, and made the first initial payment of £1.4m (€1.8m) in August 2010. Chigirinsky's name has always been on the paperwork submitted to the KNVB, and as I've been writing since November, well before he threatened to mutilate his colleague, it never made any logical sense that Jordania was ever involved with Vitesse in the first place.

In addition, Marina Granovskaia has been involved in Vitesse from the outset. Granovskaia, who is likely the most powerful woman in football, was elevated to Chelsea's board of directors in 2013, and has been working with Roman Abramovich since she graduated from Moscow State University in 1997. One e-mail from January 2011 details how Granovskaia reached out to Didier Drogba to help recruit fellow Ivorian Wilfried Bony to Vitesse.

Jordania also consulted with Chelsea on the replacement for Vitesse legend Theo Bos, who had been the manager when the club was purchased (Bos, unfortunately, has since passed away). Former Chelsea right back Albert Ferrer was appointed after the financial demands from an assistant coach at FC Twente fell outside of their budget. Ferrer was paid £242,000 in his eight-month stint as manager.

Voetbal International shared these e-mails with the KNVB prior to publication, and while the KNVB will be obligated to take a look at them as a matter of due diligence, it seems clear that no rules have been broken by either Chelsea or Vitesse as far as the FA or KNVB are concerned.

While the level of involvement may raise questions as to whether the clubs are under "common control," and are therefore ineligible to compete in the same UEFA competition under the ENIC ruling, these e-mails are over four years old, and aside from some interesting details, there's nothing earth-shattering here.

Vitesse CEO Joost de Wit, technical director Mo Allach, and manager Peter Bosz have been open about the extent to which Chelsea is involved, and it's clear that Vitesse is its own club and makes the final decisions on club matters. Of course, Vitesse wouldn't be where it is today without Alexander Chigirinsky, and Alexander Chigirinsky likely wouldn't have purchased the club if not for Roman Abramovich and Chelsea. The clubs enjoy a close relationship that yields tangible benefits for both sides, and that relationship is only growing stronger.

Chelsea has sent thirteen different players to Vitesse since the partnership first began, and that number could very well grow before the end of the transfer window (Bertrand Traore and Wallace are already at Vitesse). Vitesse's new shirt sponsor, Truphone, is partly owned by Roman Abramovich, who bought a 23.3% stake in the company in 2013, and the revenue generated from the sponsorship will help Vitesse comply with UEFA's financial fair play regulations if (when) Vitesse does earn a spot in European competition. Finally, Chelsea will be training at Vitesse's excellent facility at Papendal in just a few days and the clubs will play a friendly against each other a week from today.

There is nothing in the FA, UEFA, or KNVB regulations that prohibit a Premier League club from having a strong relationship with an Eredivisie club. If a challenge was ever made, it would be unlikely that they would be considered under "common control," and if Chelsea had any doubts about this, it wouldn't be sending Vitesse some of its best young prospects and facilitating the Truphone sponsorship. As Vitesse has European ambitions that could be realised very soon, if it had any doubts about its future UEFA eligibility (and it would almost certainly be Vitesse sitting out, and not Chelsea in the extremely unlikely event that it came down to that), then it would be distancing itself from Chelsea, as opposed to working more closely with the club.

For more on Vitesse, see our comprehensive coverage, and stay tuned to WAGNH, as we'll be covering every step of the Arnhem club's march to an Eredivisie title and a spot in in the Champions League.

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