Arrested football agent 'wanted to watch Queen's funeral'

Saif Alrubie arrives at Southwark Crown Court
Saif Alrubie is charged with sending Marina Granovskaia an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety [PA Media]

A football agent accused of sending a threatening email to a former Chelsea director told police he had been looking forward to watching the late Queen's funeral before he got arrested.

A court has heard Saif Alrubie considered he was owed a percentage of Kurt Zouma's transfer fee to West Ham.

It is alleged Mr Alrubie demanded payment from Marina Granovskaia and insinuated she might come to harm.

He denies sending a communication with intent to cause distress.

Marina Granovskaia arrives at Southwark Crown Court
Marina Granovskaia was described as the "right-hand person" of Chelsea's former owner Roman Abramovich [PA Media]

The 45-year-old was arrested while getting off a plane at Heathrow Airport on 19 September 2022 - the day of the funeral - and told officers during his police interview that he was unhappy being arrested "like I'm Pablo Escobar".

He believed he facilitated the £29m transfer in 2021 but the prosecution said Mr Alrubie had "no right to or credible expectation to" benefit from it.

The email in question implied Ms Granovskaia, then a senior director at Chelsea, might "suffer the fate" of another agent, Kia Joorabchian, who was allegedly accosted and intimidated by men demanding payment, the jury was told.

Mr Alrubie, from Fulham, west London, told police he "was hoping to come in this morning and watch the funeral like everyone else in the world".

He added that he was instead made to feel like "a drug-dealer".

'Nothing menacing'

He said that he and Ms Granovskaia - whom he described as the "right-hand person" of Chelsea's former owner Roman Abramovich - had a "civil financial dispute" over a "disagreement" involving the transfer of Zouma.

Mr Alrubie said he did not "kick up a fuss" nearer the time of the transfer because he was working as an intermediary for another Chelsea player, but decided to send the email, on 22 May 2022, at the end of the season.

Asked about his reference to Mr Joorabchian in the email, Mr 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: 'OK, I'm going to pay.'

"So he ended up handing over his watch voluntarily. The day after he got his watch back and paid the money and that was it.

"Nothing happened, nothing physical, nothing menacing."

The trial, at Southwark Crown Court, continues.