One of Roman Abramovich's closest confidantes has revealed for the first time that Chelsea's billionaire owner has been hit hard by the global credit crunch and has told the club to cut back their spending as a result. Frank Arnesen, the club's chief scout who is in Abramovich's inner circle, said that the Russian had "hit the financial brakes".
Speaking for the first time since his controversial switch from Tottenham three years ago, Arnesen said that Chelsea were still confident of delivering on their bold pledge to be self-financing one day. However, he said that the money ploughed into the club by Abramovich – £578m at the last financial results announcement this year – would not be so readily available in the future.
Arnesen, who was instrumental in the appointment of Luiz Felipe Scolari, said: "The structure is now in place and the financial crunch has meant that Roman has hit the financial brake, and asked us to cut deep, we have cut down significantly on scouts and other activities. However, we are now getting close to the time when the club can carry on without Roman's money."
It emerged last week that Chelsea had parted company with 15 scouts. However, Arnesen maintained that "80 per cent of the dreams I had after the switch from Tottenham are now being put into place. There is no turning back."
Arnesen, rated as one of football's best scouts, has been a divisive figure at Chelsea who did not always see eye-to-eye with former manager Jose Mourinho. He was with Abramovich in Geneva at Euro 2008 when Chelsea appointed Scolari and has kept on the right side of the Russian. In the interview with the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen, he indicated that his power does not just stop at the academy where his title is "chief scout and director of youth development".
While he did not mention Mourinho by name, Arnesen said that certain football managers were behind in their approach to the modern game. "The time of managers who dictate everything and who do not have any interest in the other part of the business will die out," he said. He also claimed that Abramovich (right) backed him as he sought more power within Chelsea.
"I have been responsible for scouting first team players since 2006 and in my first year my job was to scout players under the age of 19. But it seemed foolish that our network was only looking at players under 19. Roman understood that so I was handed a mandate to recommend players for Mourinho, then Avram Grant and now Scolari.
"The first year at Chelsea I did not attend one single board meeting. Roman started getting interested in the structure of the club and I told him I found it hard no meetings were held where people who had expertise in different fields were exchanging ideas."