‘Suicide mission’ to threaten Roman Abramovich associate, court told

A football agent accused of sending a threatening email to a former Chelsea director has told a court that threatening someone with the “might” of the club’s former owner Roman Abramovich behind them would be a “suicide mission”.

Saif Alrubie, who claimed he played a part in facilitating the transfer of Kurt Zouma in August 2021 from Chelsea to West Ham for about £29 million, considered he was owed a percentage of the transfer amount and demanded payment from Marina Granovskaia, 49.

The 45-year-old defendant told police after his arrest on September 19 2022 – the day of the late Queen’s funeral – that he had been looking forward to watching the ceremony with his parents, and was unhappy being arrested coming off a plane “like I’m Pablo Escobar”.

Marina Granovskai arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London
Marina Granovskaia gave evidence at Southwark Crown Court in London on Tuesday (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The defendant, of Fulham, west London, sent an email to Ms Granovskaia on May 22 2022 – when she was director of football at Chelsea – in which prosecutors said he implied she might “suffer the fate” of another agent, Kia Joorabchian, who was allegedly accosted and intimidated by people demanding payment.

Giving evidence at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, Alrubie told jurors: “I’m sending an email to a woman who is the right hand of Roman Abramovich, one of the biggest Russian businessmen in the world.

“I’m only Saif Alrubie… I’m a small agent.

“I don’t think I would be stupid enough to be threatening anybody let alone somebody with the might of Roman Abramovich (behind them).

“That would just be me on a suicide mission. I’m not that stupid.”

He told jurors he is in the midst of trying to recover money via a civil claim against Ms Granovskaia.

Asked what he thought now of the email he sent her, he said: “Of course I wish I could have used maybe language that is not as strong as this, however we are all human beings here.

“What I’m guilty of is sending an angry (email) demanding payment that I’m due.”

Asked about his professional relationship with Mr Joorabchian, he said he has had to warn him in the past that he might “go legal on him” if he would not pay Alrubie the money he owed, and said he spent a lot of time in casinos.

In an interview with police on September 19 2022, Alrubie said: “I was looking forward to watching the Queen’s funeral.”

Kurt Zouma
Saif Alrubie claimed he played a part in facilitating the transfer of Kurt Zouma in August 2021 from Chelsea to West Ham (Steven Paston/PA)

He insisted he had a “civil financial dispute” with Ms Granovskaia, and nothing more, over a “disagreement” involving the transfer of Mr Zouma.

Alrubie said Ms Granovskaia used a “corporate excuse” to get out of paying him commission.

Asked about his reference to Mr Joorabchian in the email, Alrubie told police: “He owed me about £50,000 for a year.

“All that happened was he was spotted having dinner with the Brazilian football team and one of my old associates, no longer, went up to him… and Kia then said: ‘Okay I’m going to pay.’

“So he ended up handing over his watch voluntarily.

“Nothing happened, nothing physical, nothing menacing.”

He denied the suggestion that his “intent” in referencing Mr Joorabchian in the email he sent Ms Granovskaia was to imply that she would be similarly approached.

“My intent is I’m owed money so I’m not going to lay down like an idiot and let her take the piss out of me,” Alrubie told police.

Alrubie explained he had a meeting in Dubai a few weeks after sending the email with representatives from a firm that managed Chelsea Football Club’s security.

He said he felt the meeting “dealt with and addressed” the issue.

Saif Alrubie court case
Saif Alrubie arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Alrubie told the court on Wednesday that he was “not a cowboy” and that it was “always the position” that he would get a commission if the transfer fee was over 30 million euros.

He said he was “very much due” a commission and was “cut out” of the deal sheet.

Ms Granovskaia explained to jurors on Tuesday that the transfer fee for the French defender was split, with around £25m going to Chelsea and around £4m going to the player.

Responding to this, Alrubie said: “A transfer fee is a transfer fee.

“She might as well have included the utility bills they were paying. It’s nonsense.”

It is alleged that Alrubie sent the email to Ms Granovskaia, saying he and his partners are owed £300,000, before continuing: “I’m sure you’ve heard the story about your other friend Kia when he owed me money for a year and how he ended up paying it. Wouldn’t want you to be in the same situation just because you have a personal issue with me.”

Jurors heard police looked into Mr Joorabchian’s allegation and found “no link” between the incident and Alrubie.

Mr Joorabchian had been due to come to court to give evidence on Tuesday, but the jury heard he told police he flew to the US on a private jet on Monday night.

The defendant denies a single charge of sending an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety and the trial continues on Thursday.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –