Chelsea almost debt free

Roman Abramovich has all but wiped out Chelsea's £340m debt, according to financial figures released by the Barclays Premier League leaders.

The 2009 results revealed losses down to £44.4million, a compensation payment of £12.6million to Luiz Felipe Scolari and three of his staff - and also Abramovich repeating his actions of last year when debts were reduced by half.

Abramovich was widely reported to be owed the money as an interest-free loan, which have now been turned into shares.

A statement from Chelsea read: "Following previous conversions of half of the debt, the remainder of the interest-free loans from the parent company, whose ultimate controlling party is Roman Abramovich, have been converted into equity making the group effectively debt free."

Chelsea insist the move "demonstrates the continuing commitment from the shareholder to the group" but it would also remove any fears of a meltdown if Abramovich ever decided to walk away from football.

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: "The club's debt load has been reduced almost to nil in order to provide more long-term stability for the club.

"The reduction will also enable the club to comply with any regulations on debt levels which are being discussed by the football community."

The Russian has bankrolled Chelsea since 2003 and former chief executive Peter Kenyon previously spoke of the club breaking even by 2010.

The losses announced by the club are down from £65.7million last year but show the club still to be reliant on their owner.

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said: "It is still our aim to be self-sufficient and we will achieve this by increasing our revenues as we continue to leverage off our brand.

"We are reducing our costs by controlling expenses, including salaries and wages."