Roman Abramovich, the owner of last year's Premiership chumpions Chelsea, has reacted angrily to allegations that he offered a substantial cash bonus to the Russian national football team players ahead of the Euro 2008 qualifier against England.
Abramovich, it has been claimed, offered each Russian £40,000 if they could beat England at the New Wembley Stadium, but the tycoon has denied this, saying the incentive was "nearer £50,000".
Chelsea, meanwhile, have indicated that filthy-rich Mr Abramovich, who is a "well-known joker", was joking, and that he would never try to influence the outcome of a game of football by "dangling money in front of players' noses like a carrot".
Peter Kenyon, the chief executive at Stamford Bridge, said:
"Comrade Abramovich is a fine upstanding individual who would never use cash to influence, persuade, sway or coax anyone away from a similar job at a club like Manchester United. It's just not ethical."
The Russian is a self-made rich person who made much of his enormous wealth by selling those stupid Russian dolls to tourists in Moscow, and shining shoes in his spare time.
A spokesman for Comrade Abramovich said this afternoon that the billionaire was unavailable for comment being, as he was, at home putting the finishing touches to his new money-printing press.