“YOU HAVE TO BE RUTHLESS & YOU HAVE TO BE FAIR”……….

……….Said Peter Kenyon when asked about his business ethic when he arrived at Chelsea in 2003/04, doubling his salary from his previous employer, Man Utd. To most of us genuine football fans this statement is nonsense. Surely you can’t be both?

On arrival at The Bridge it was clear he didn’t rate our manager, Claudio Ranieri. Claudio was popular with the fans but very underrated by Kenyon, who wasn’t afraid to mention the fact in public. Ranieri quickly became the “Dead Man Walking” (a name he used later for his Chelsea biography). When Kenyon showed him the door he had proved his ruthlessness – but it certainly wasn’t fair.

If a football club today wants to transition and become a summit or “big” club then its fans have to learn to live with characters like Peter Kenyon. Some would say he was lucky to get Mourinho after Ranieri, whilst others would say it was genius. The instant on-field success that followed meant that Claudio’s sacking (like so many others since) was quickly forgotten by the faithful who were happy to see the team winning regularly.

There is little doubt that “Brand Chelsea” was forged and fast tracked by Kenyon as he quickly increased awareness of the club in all corners of the world. It became noticeable that the dynamic of the home crowd changed with many tourist/plastic fans (spotted by their “half & half” scarves) frequenting The Bridge.

Kenyon was noted as saying “I need to build a successful business that is non loss making, we’re going to get there by 2010”…. Interesting to note that losses of £228M in 2019/20 were added to the overall debt to Abramovich which, at that point, had racked up to c£1.4B!

Away from building “Brand Chelsea”, Kenyon did open up a dialogue with supporters groups, and I understand from some fellow supporters involved at the time that he was an approachable and engaging CEO who at least listened to supporters and strived to understand the club culture from their perspective – something his replacement, Ron Gourlay, has failed to do since.

A confident man, Kenyon said in 2005, “this season’s Premier League champions will come from a small group of one”. There is little doubt that his confidence is backed by a great deal experience and success thus far in his career . Questionable behaviour, like the “tapping up” of Ashley Cole in 2005, can easily be overlooked when you consider Cole went on to win Prem League, Champions League, Europa League, League Cup, and 3 FA cups with Chelsea.

Kenyon’s departure from Chelsea (after the Scolari debacle) was met with indifference from Chelsea Supporters who had, by now, got used to the fact that, as long as we kept winning, little else mattered. In truth, I don’t think that many genuine Chelsea supporters really appreciated his contribution to the club’s success.

Some say that money has ruined the working mans’ game,  and I tend to agree. However, if any supporter wants their team to play and win at the top table then they have to go through change and a Peter Kenyon type is an essential part of that change.

Mark Willett – Chelsea Fan – Chelsea Pitch Owners Group!