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Abramovich has long-term commitment to Chelsea, says Kenyon
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Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich is committed to the London club for the long term, outgoing chief executive Peter Kenyon said on Monday.

Kenyon said Abramovich was commited for the right reasons and that so-called "sugar daddies" should not necessarily be turned away from the sport.

His comments came after UEFA last week approved president Michel Platini's "financial fair play" plan aimed at curbing the influence of rich owners who pour huge financial resources into their clubs. Platini wants clubs to live within their means.

"Just because you have a lot of money, it doesn't mean you are a bad investor in football," Kenyon, who will leave his post on Oct 31 but will continue to serve as a non-executive director, told a soccer industry conference in Zurich.

"Roman Abramovich has put money in and he's commited for the long term for the right reasons," he said. "Roman Abramovich's investment has been fantastic for Chelsea.

"Football does need these investors."

Transfer frenzy

Chelsea, who reported losses 65.7 million pounds ($106.5 million) up to June last year, are members of the European Club Association (ECA) which approved Platini's plan before it went to UEFA's executive committee.

Kenyon said the club's finances were sound.

"We've got no external debt," he said. "We've got secured ownership with secured financing."

Kenyon said transfer speculation and spending, criticized by many as excessive, had become part of the sport.

"You shouldn't underestimate the frenzy that comes around during the summer. It's part of the preseason," he said.

Kenyon said Chelsea, who won the league in 2005 and 2006, had broken the Arsenal-Manchester United domination of the Premier League during his six years at the club.

"We broke the cartel and we became a respected domestic club and a respected European club," he said.

"We have grown the business, we have doubled the turnover, we have increased our sponsorship revenues, we sell out every game and we have got a squad as good as any other."

Kenyon said the sport had survived the economic downturn.

"We haven't seen that collapse that everyone was talking about," he said. "But it has accelerated the discussions about financial stability in football.

"Very, very few clubs disappear. They may undergo a change in ownership but very, very few clubs disappear completely.

"People want an escape and are prepared to spend part of their disposable income to watch 90 minutes of football."

(Reuters via China Daily September 23, 2009)

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