The Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon yesterday defended the club's extravagant spending power by insisting that the Premiership champions were mainly targeting English players and were deliberately keeping their squad at 23 players in order to allow everyone to contribute.
Kenyon said Chelsea were simply taking advantage of market forces - and did not accept that they were acting against the best interests of the game, spending some £4m per season on their academy.
"We have taken a conscious decision that the core of our team should be English," said Kenyon, who courted controversy last week by saying his aim was to make Chelsea a bigger brand than Manchester United, his former club, by 2014. "It adds identity. If players do not play, they go backwards. It doesn't work to have a big squad."
One wonders what Shaun Wright-Phillips would make of such remarks, having been so frustrated since his £21m move to Stamford Bridge from Manchester City that he is now apparently on the verge of a January transfer to West Ham.
Kenyon also defended the club's £30m purchase of the Ukraine striker Andrei Shevchenko from Milan last summer, insisting that buying the forward had been no knee-jerk decision.
"We did not take a one-year view of Shevchenko. He was identified early on as a player who could improve us. Until then, our purchasing strategy was about buying much younger players. It's about getting the balance right between buying in and producing your own talent."
That balance, Kenyon said, also applied in terms of how many foreign imports to employ. Fifa wants half of every starting XI to be home-grown but Kenyon said this was too many. "Quotas are going to happen," he said. "But we have to make sure we don't kill an element of the game that has made us successful. I'm all in favour of quotas but imposing how many you have to play in any XI, that's too prohibitive."Reuse content