Football agent tells his trial it would be 'suicide mission' to threaten Roman Abramovich associate

A football agent on trial in London has said it would be a "suicide mission" to threaten someone with the "might" of former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich behind them.

Saif Alrubie, 45, allegedly implied the threat of physical intimidation in an email in May 2022 to the then director of football at the club Marina Granovskaia, demanding payment.

Alrubie, of Fulham, west London, claimed he played a role in facilitating centre-back Kurt Zouma's £29m move in August 2021 from Chelsea to West Ham and believed he was owed commission.

He allegedly said he and his partners were owed £300,000 and prosecutors claim his email to Ms Granovskaia suggested she might "suffer the fate" of another agent Kia Joorabchian, who claims he was accosted and intimidated by men demanding payment.

Alrubie was not on the "deal sheet" created for the sale of the French defender, and had "no right to or credible expectation to" benefit from the transfer, according to the prosecution.

Giving evidence at Southwark Crown Court, Alrubie said he intended to threaten Ms Granovskaia with legal action but "never" anything else, and specifically denied intending to threaten physical intimidation or violence.

He 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."

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."

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

The court heard Ms Granovskaia previously told Alrubie that if Mr Zouma sold for more than 30 million euros he would get a commission, but the prosecution told jurors there was "nothing binding" about those exchanges because it was "pre-contract".

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

She has denied cutting Alrubie out of the deal over Mr Zouma.

Alrubie denies a single charge of sending an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety.

The trial continues on Thursday.