Mystery buyer lifts the FA Cup for £480,000

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The Independent Online

After funding Chelsea's Premiership winning side, the club's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich is now believed to have bought the FA Cup, despite his team being knocked out in the fifth round.

After funding Chelsea's Premiership winning side, the club's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich is now believed to have bought the FA Cup, despite his team being knocked out in the fifth round.

But the cup thought to have been acquired by Mr Abramovich is not the one that will be contested by Arsenal and Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow, it is a trophy last awarded in 1909 and sold at auction by Christie's yesterday.

If reports are correct that the bidder was Mr Abramovich, he paid £478,400, a world record for an item of football memorabilia, topping the £254,500 paid in 1997 for a copy of the Jules Rimet world cup trophy, won outright by Brazil in 1970.

The oldest surviving version of the FA Cup, it was made in 1896 as a replacement for the original, stolen from the window of a shop in Birmingham where it had been on display after Aston Villa won it in 1895.

Chelsea were not among the teams that held it aloft - winners included Manchester United, Tottenham, Bury, Everton, Nottingham Forest and Manchester City - before it was replaced in 1909 when the FA realised it did not have a copyright on it and presented it to Lord Kinnaird to mark his presidency of the FA for more than two decades.

David Convery, head of the sports memorabilia department at Christie's, said: "Football sales started in 1989 and this is, by and large, the most impressive result.''

At yesterday's sale, Alan Ball became the latest member of the 1966 World Cup-winning team to auction his winners medal. It sold for £164,000.

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