Kenyon seeks club partnerships in global warning

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They have got their silverware and now they want their money. Chelsea have gone deep into their cash reservoir to replace Arsenal and Manchester United as the top dogs in England this season. They could still be crowned the best in Europe too via the Champions' League, but they also want to make the club a global brand, eventually outstripping United and making the club financially viable without owner Roman Abramovich's billions.

They have got their silverware and now they want their money. Chelsea have gone deep into their cash reservoir to replace Arsenal and Manchester United as the top dogs in England this season. They could still be crowned the best in Europe too via the Champions' League, but they also want to make the club a global brand, eventually outstripping United and making the club financially viable without owner Roman Abramovich's billions.

Chief executive Peter Kenyon presided over the announcement of a £50m sponsorship deal with Samsung early last week as part of Chelsea's plan for world domination and some handy, if not necessarily necessary, cash flow.

Abramovich has a sponsor's interest in CSKA Moscow and Chelsea already have links with clubs in Europe and are said to be looking at South American affiliations too. They are due to go on a summer tour of America and Samsung will expose them in China and the rest of Asia. "Over the next five years, we do see more partner clubs being affiliated," Kenyon confirmed. "The importance of Samsung is they are a global brand, in a sector with a direct interface with customers and their key territories are clearly south-east Asia.

"Most clubs are piling back into Asia this year and we are going back to north America. But taking the team on tour for 10 days is nice revenue but it doesn't globalise your brand and you have no more affinity three months after the tour than you had before you went.

"You have to do more work and one of the key aspects of this relationship is that we will be ever present in those territories. If Chelsea were here once every two years, then it wouldn't be a big club in England, so why do we think it will be any different in China or north America? The great thing the Premier League does is give us coverage. Everybody knows the clubs and the stars associated with them."

Kenyon and club chairman Bruce Buck are not alone in proclaiming Chelsea can rival Arsenal and United financially in the future and even turn last year's losses of £83m into a break-even figure by 2010. Paul Smith is Chelsea's business affairs director and he believes the gap is already closing on United.

"United have increased revenues as well, but what has affected them is their early exit in the Champions' League. That has a big impact on the numbers and within three years we feel we can get close to them." An obvious gap between United and the rest is their Old Trafford stadium capacity just shy of 70,000. Arsenal's new ground will be ready for 60,000 in a year's time, but Chelsea are stuck with their 42,449 capacity unless they do something drastic.

Speculation that Chelsea might make a temporary move to Wembley, while the capacity at Stamford Bridge is increased, is wide of the mark. As Arsenal found with Highbury, the position of housing, residents and planning rules make expanding the capacity of the Bridge impossible.

What is far more likely is a move away from Stamford Bridge. Smith confirmed: "We can't be closer to their [United's] capacity because of the restrictions and regulations. We won't be considering moving right now. Our natural level is probably 60,000, but it can't be done here.

"We would have to buy all the houses around the ground and knock down the hotels and that won't happen. We want to be big in London and grow the appeal of the club across the city." Today London, tomorrow the world.

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