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More from Bruce Buck and Kenyon on Roman and the future


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From the Belfast Telegraph

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport ... 287475.ece

?80m losses but Abramovich future secure, say Chelsea

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

By Sam Wallace

The Chelsea hierarchy yesterday made its strongest pledge yet that Roman Abramovich would not walk away from the club despite his differences with Jose Mourinho and that it still believed it could "pay back" the ?500m the Russian billionaire has pumped into the club.

It was a bold boast on the day that Chelsea posted ?80m losses up to the end of June 2006, after their record ?140m losses the previous year, but the club's chief executive Peter Kenyon said that it was on track to be self-sufficient by 2010. Asked whether Abramovich would ever ask for his "non-interest bearing loans" back, Kenyon said: "You know what? As chief executive I want to pay him back because that would show we are running this club as a real proper sustainable business."

Chelsea were eager to point to a 42.9 per cent reduction in losses, an increase in turnover of 2.3 per cent and a rise in merchandising profits of 44 per cent - all part of their "five-year plan" to break even. But it was the Russian who rarely speaks in public who dominated the agenda again after he returned to Stamford Bridge following an absence of six matches for Saturday's FA Cup win over Norwich City.

It fell to the chairman Bruce Buck, the American lawyer regarded as the closest link to Abramovich in the club outside the Russians in his circle, who reassured supporters the owner had no plans to move on. Speaking about accusations that Abramovich had "lost his interest and enthusiasm", Buck said that the Russian had not been at recent games because of work and family commitments. He said it was usual for Abramovich to take a family holiday in the Caribbean in the New Year and that his political career as governor of Chukotkameant that he had to spend time there appointing an administration.

"We had several conversations with Roman because we know we have to do this every year," Buck said. "I can assure you his interest in the club has not waned one iota although he has been absent for four or five matches - he's watched those games on television. Him missing those matches is a non-story."

Kenyon also pointed out that while the new owners of Manchester United and Liverpool had to pay big to buy the clubs (around ?790m for United and ?220m for Liverpool with a further ?200m for investment), most of Abramovich's money has been invested directly into football, including a new training ground and academy.

Buck said: "We are not working towards a question of 'What if Roman should walk away?', but we realise from day one that we had to find a way to make this club profitable in the long term. No matter how much money the man has, and I don't know how much, at some point he is not going to want to invest more money in the club."

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