Once you have a tag, it tends to stick.
In the Netherlands, Vitesse Arnhem has long been known as FC Hollywood aan de Rijn, a nickname that reflects the near extinction in the 1980s, the exciting times of the 1990s and spiraling debts, unrest in the boardrooms and a fraud case in the 2000s. The success was still elusive but the drama was still present.
No prizes for guessing who were the first Dutch club to fall into the hands of foreign owners 11 years ago and, of course, it breathed new life into the soap opera Vitesse. Georgian businessman Merab Jordania came and went and was later banned from the club for allegedly threatening to cut off the fingers of general manager Joost de Wit. Only at FC Hollywood, it seemed.
Over the past decade, another label has attached itself. Vitesse has been called ‘Chelsea B’, due to the number of players the Premier League club have sent them on loan.
It was an informal arrangement, but one that was clear to all. In 2017, The keeper dug deeper and revealed which Chelsea manager Eugene Tenenbaum describes on the London club’s website as “one of Roman Abramovich’s closest associates”, and Paul Heagren, who was the secretary of Abramovich’s UK investment vehicle Millhouse Capital , had played a leading role in the acquisition of Vitesse by Jordania. Alexander Chigirinsky, who took over in 2013, also had ties to Abramovich.
Their last owner is Russian businessman Valeriy Oyf, who took over three years ago. Oyf was previously vice-chairman of Sibneft, the Russian energy company majority-owned by Abramovich until Gazprom bought him in 2005.