Kia Joorabchian misses trial as Saif Alrubie says threatening Marina Granovskaia ‘a suicide mission’

Kia Joorabchian at Goodison Park in 2018
Kia Joorabchian was due to be called as a witness by the prosecution - Getty Images/Simon Stacpoole

Football agent Kia Joorabchian flew to America on a private jet without telling police the night before he was due to give evidence in court as a witness in the trial of Saif Alrubie, a jury was told.

Alrubie, who is also a football agent, is on trial at Southwark Crown Court after being charged with sending a malicious email to former Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia with the intention of causing distress or anxiety.

Speaking in court as a witness on Wednesday, Alrubie described Granovskaia as “the right hand of Roman Abramovich” and said it would have been a “suicide mission” to threaten her.

Earlier this week, the jury heard that Alrubie’s email to Granovskaia, in which he claimed he was owed £300,000 in commission for the transfer of Kurt Zouma from Chelsea to West Ham United, said: “I’m sure you’ve heard the story about your other friend Kia when he owed me money for a year and how he ended up paying it. Wouldn’t want you to be in the same situation just because you have a personal issue with me.”

Saif Alrubie arrives at Southwark Crown Court
Saif Alrubie arrives at Southwark Crown Court - PA/Jordan Pettitt

Joorabchian was called as a witness by the prosecution, but after telling them he was unwell and may not be able to attend court, it emerged he had flown to the United States.

As the owner of Sports Invest agency, Joorabchian’s clients include former Chelsea winger Willian, Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz and Tottenham Hotspur left-back Sergio Reguilon, who is on loan at Brentford.

Reading the ‘agreed facts’ in the case to the jury, prosecutor Arizuna Asante said: “Kia Joorabchian was required to be at court on Tuesday 23rd April 2024 to give evidence. On Monday 22nd April 2024, the prosecution contacted him to confirm his attendance at court.

“The officer in the case spoke to Mr Joorabchian and he initially told the officer that he may not be able to attend court on the afternoon of 23/04/24 as he was due to fly abroad. He did not tell the officer he was out of the UK.

“Following a further call to Mr Joorabchian he then told the officer that he was feeling unwell and was not well enough to come to court to give evidence, but could apparently do so over a video link. He made no suggestion that he was out of the UK during that conversation.

“Mr Joorabchian was asked to get a doctor’s note to confirm his diagnosis. The police made further repeated unanswered calls. When the officer did manage to make contact with him yesterday afternoon, Mr Joorabchian informed the officer that on Monday night he had got on a private jet and flown to the United States of America.”

The jury had been told on Tuesday by Mr Asante that Joorabchian was allegedly confronted in a restaurant by people acting for Alrubie, who took his watch and refused to return it until payment was made later when approximately 12 men turned up at his office and ordered him to pay in bundles.

Speaking as witness, Alrubie insisted his reference to Joorabchian in the email to Granovskaia had not meant to imply a physical threat and said: “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.”

Marina Granovskaia arrives at Southwark Crown Court
Marina Granovskaia arrives at Southwark Crown Court - PA/Jordan Pettitt

Alrubie told the court that he had started civil proceedings against Granovskaia to try to recover the money he believes he is owed and asked specifically whether he had intended to threaten her, he replied: “Legally, one million per cent. But anything else, nothing.

“I wish I would have used language that maybe was not as strong, however we are all human beings. All I am guilty of is sending an angry email.”

Asked by defence barrister Matthew Radstone about his dealings with Joorabchian, Alrubie said: “Kia Joorabchian is an interesting character and was unfortunately meant to be here but jumped on a private jet to America.

“He is very much a gambling kind of person, in casinos all the time and always late paying. When I resolved a financial dispute with him in 2010, that was the last time I wanted to deal with him because I don’t do business like that.”

Alrubie’s statement to police following his arrest over the email was also read out in court on Wednesday. Asked to explain his reference to Joorabchian and his understanding of what had happened to him, Alrubie had told police: “He owed about £50,000 for a year and again just like... if I was going after this money I would have been doing a lot more to try and get this money.

“With the situation with Kia, 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... because he knew he owed the money he said ‘OK I’m gonna pay, I’m gonna pay, I’m gonna pay’.

“But obviously Kia’s been dodging and avoiding paying for a while, 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 and that was all that happened, nothing happened, nothing physical, nothing menacing, nothing.”

The case continues.