Football: `Chelsea are not above the transfer rules' insists Kenyon

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The Independent Online
CHELSEA'S CHIEF executive Peter Kenyon has defended his club's conduct in transfer negotiations, insisting that the Premiership leaders are not "above the law".

Kenyon again refused to deny making an illegal approach for the Arsenal full-back Ashley Cole, following reports claiming that the player held secret transfer talks last week with the Blues' manager Jose Mourinho, Kenyon and the agent Pini Zahavi. However, Kenyon insisted it is club policy not to comment on "speculation", and went on to outline how money from transfers involving Chelsea is clearly accounted for.

"I think we conduct ourselves in the right manner, we certainly don't view ourselves as above the law," Kenyon said. There's so much good stuff going on at Chelsea, on and off the field, and it's sad to talk about this. The quicker we get on with the real issues and move forward the better we all are."

This may not placate the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has called on Chelsea "to clarify" the situation regarding Cole. "They can say yes or no, then it is up to the Premier League," Wenger said yesterday, while his chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, said that he would investigate the claims his player had been "tapped up".

Cole, 24, is under contract at Highbury until 2007 but is not among the high earners in the top-flight despite his impressive performances for Arsenal and England.

"There's lots of talk about Ashley but in the weekend's papers there were other players linked," Kenyon added. "As far as I'm aware he is under contract to Arsenal. We're not going to add to the speculation, you'll never end it. We can't just knock back every story. We don't want to debate it any further because that is club policy."

Kenyon insisted that transfer negotiations are conducted properly, and went on to defend the role of players' agents.

"Football rules today," Kenyon said. "All the money we're involved with in a transfer is transparent, the Football Association know exactly where it is. The rules are quite clear and it is not as clouded or non- transparent as people would make out.

"They [agents] are a necessary evil at times, but we are in an environment where people want representation, and they have a role to play."

Player purchases and wages contributed to Chelsea's pounds 88m loss this year, but Kenyon is looking for long-term stability and is confident that Roman Abramovich's financial backing will continue.

"I spend a lot of time with him and he's a big supporter," Kenyon added. "We've made a significant loss but there's a real commitment to get this business back on stream.

"In five years' time we will not make losses and we will be self-financing and less reliant on the owner. That's not to suggest he will not be around for a very long time because we're confident about the funding."

Mourinho will restore his rested first-choice players to duty at Blackburn tonight. The manager has a full squad with the exceptions of Scott Parker (broken foot), Ricardo Carvalho (broken toe) and Robert Huth (knee ligaments). Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, William Gallas, Arjen Robben, Paulo Ferreira, Tiago and Claude Makelele will all return.

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