Chelsea's Kenyon outlines global growth strategy

Chelsea FC chief executive Peter Kenyon has a master-plan of making the English Premier League title-holder profitable in five years and the number one internationally recognised club in ten years' time. Just under two years since he started working at Chelsea after leaving Manchester United, reported Ben Lyttleton of Scotland on Sunday "he is confident that his ambitions are firmly on track".

Addressing the International Football Arena in Zurich, Kenyon was keen to point out that the initial investment from owner Abramovich was only £60 million, "considerably less" than the £800 million the Glazer family spent on the purchase of Manchester United, allowing some £300 million to be readily made available to spend on new players.

Investment at this stage is key to the strategy of building success for the future, according to Kenyon. Chelsea spent £24.5 million buying out the existing contract with kit manufacturers Umbro, who will be replaced by Adidas next season on a £12 million-per-year deal. They also changed shirt sponsors from Emirates to Samsung as the latter had a "global footprint".

The club is designing customised packages to fan-bases abroad. These might include memberships to local supporters' club with discounts off products, sweepstakes offering trips to the stadium, or priority access when Chelsea tour fans' home territory.

"It's not done on the basis of coming in for ten days [for a tour] then going away for two years. It's about building a sustainable presence and that takes time and resources, and partnerships in the right areas. And our partners Adidas and Samsung are key to assisting with that," he said.

As for Asia, Kenyon said that football in the region "has been targeted as a key area of development to successful business there but it cannot be done overnight. It's hard work, and needs a lot of investment." He added that, in Asia, Chelsea will need a team of people on the ground who can use the local language.


Speaking at Soccerex, a Middle-East football convention in Dubai, Kenyon said it was "essential not to let television exposure wreck the English game - but at the same time insisted the balance was just about right" (ESPN News). "We have got to keep the balance between the number of games on television and ensuring our stadiums are full. But don't under-estimate the importance of television revenue which funded stadia development and, more importantly, funded our ability to attract worldwide players into the game," he said.

Kenyon called upon clubs to find a solution to the issue of compensation for players injured on international duty. While some clubs have advocated governing bodies paying into an insurance fund to cover losses incurred, Chelsea reportedly supports a sliding scale where governing bodies with the ability to do so would make a contribution to players' wages.

He played down his club's continued exclusion from G14, the elite group of 18 European clubs who were meeting at EXPOGOAL, a European football convention in Milan, Italy to discuss international duty comopensation, television rights and the format of the European Champions' League.

"We are members of UEFA's European Club Forum and so is everyone else," he said. "Yes, we have the stature to be there -- as members of G14 -- but, for whatever reason, we are not. It is one of those things."

Kenyon also said he was not in favour of a European super league, insisting it would do nothing to improve the game. "If you talk to the clubs, they don't want to play AC Milan and Bayern Munich every other week,' he added. 'It's not something that the supporters want.'" (14 Oct)

See also: Umbro spends Chelsea funds in Asian markets (4 Oct)