A dive into the archive: Chelsea FC new owner Roman Abramovich
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A dive into the archive, 2003: Vismedia photographs Chelsea FC’s new owner

In the year 2000, Vismedia started out life as a photography business. Over our two decades behind the camera, we’ve collected some great photographs and interesting stories. In this series, we travel back in time and take a dive into the archive.

It’s July 2003. Bad Boys II is released to cinemas. Roger Federer wins his first Wimbledon championship. And a mysterious new owner takes over Chelsea Football Club…

Vismedia photographed the day that Ken Bates sold Chelsea to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for £140 million. We were the only agency allowed into the stadium to photograph the event that changed the world of sport.

Roman Abramovich in conversation with Ken Bates inside Stamford Bridge stadium July 2003

We were commissioned by a financial PR agency with a brief to photograph a ‘financial news story’. Our job was to take a photograph and then distribute it to the press.

Scott Shillum, Vismedia CEO, reminisced about the day. “When we arrived at Stamford Bridge, our photographer was ushered in and we only managed to get about six frames taken in between two burly minders!”

New owner of Chelsea FC Roman Abramovich shaking hands with previous owner Ken Bates in Stamford Bridge stadium

Just an hour before the shoot, the Vismedia team found out that they received exclusive access into Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium to take corporate photography.

“Those images were distributed globally to the world’s media,” said Scott. “It was very exciting.”

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