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Letting go of Abramovich Lifeline


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The Times

Chelsea ‘letting go of Abramovich lifeline

Peter Kenyon, the Chelsea chief executive, believes that the club will be less reliant on Roman Abramovich next year. Against a background of recession and chaos in the City, London’s most fashionable club are bucking the financial trend and gradually letting go of the lifeline thrown to them by their Russian owner.

The signs are that an era of stringency is dawning. Kenyon disclosed yesterday that Luiz Felipe Scolari, the manager, is aware that no money will be made available in the new year for big signings, except in the most dire emergency, while a move from Stamford Bridge has been put on hold until the financial climate improves.

Chelsea are on target to make a profit within the next two to three years, but, more importantly, will be living within their means as income improves both at home and abroad. “We hope that, in a year, the club will be self-financing,” Kenyon said. “That means we will not be needing finance from the owner as the club moves towards making a profit in the 2010 or 2011 timeframe.”

The disclosure will be treated with part surprise and part scepticism in some quarters after Chelsea’s last set of accounts revealed that Abramovich had pumped more than £570 million of his personal fortune into the club in the form of interest-free loans.

Turning Chelsea into one of Europe’s leading clubs within the past five years has accounted for increased ticket and television income, but Kenyon has presided over a significant expansion plan abroad, which is gradually turning Chelsea into a global brand. With the next set of accounts for the 2007-08 season likely to show annual income smashing the £200 million barrier, Chelsea have moved into a financial stratosphere inhabited by only a handful of clubs.

However, Kenyon welcomed the sale of Manchester City to investors from Abu Dhabi. With a wry grin, Kenyon admitted: “It is quite nice not to be labelled the richest club in the world any more. That is a monkey off our backs.” The end of the label and, perhaps, the start of a Chelsea that can pay its way without the help of a Russian benefactor with very deep pockets.

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He has a good point about us not being the richest anymore, but we can expect an significant boost in Man City supporters over the next few years.

The question is:

Is Abramovich happy to pour the money into the Club?

Must cost him a few bob every season to maintain the club

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