Chelsea to do list: build new stadium, slash losses...

As revealed in <i>The Independent</i> yesterday, Ron Gourlay is replacing Peter Kenyon at Chelsea. Sam Wallace looks at the tasks he faces at a club riven by divisions

Friday 18 September 2009 00:00 BST

The new Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay will have nothing like the power of his predecessor Peter Kenyon and will focus on the commercial side of the job while leaving all football business in the hands of sporting director Frank Arnesen.

As revealed by The Independent yesterday, Gourlay, 46, will take over from Kenyon who brought him from Manchester United five years ago. The former United commercial director said that he would "strike the balance between the footballing and commercial sides" of the club but the football element of the job is way out of his remit with Arnesen in such control.

With the Fifa transfer ban over the Gaël Kakuta affair to be fought, as well as long-term plans for Stamford Bridge to be put in place, The Independent looks at the challenges Chelsea and their new chief executive face.

1. Watch out for club politics

Arnesen is supposed to answer to Gourlay but only really answers to Roman Abramovich. Carlo Ancelotti is supposed to work with Arnesen but will also want to go direct to the top man. John Terry has his eye on the manager's job one day. Everywhere you look at Chelsea there is ambition.

Gourlay has already had five years to learn the ropes. He had better be a good diplomat, especially when it comes to dealing with the Russians.

2. Fight Fifa transfer ban

Chelsea's defence will still fall under Kenyon's remit because he is a central part of the club's case. While Gourlay will be expected to oversee the legal defence for the Kakuta case, most of the work will come from his predecessors' influence within Uefa and the European Clubs' Association.

At some point – either in 2011 or earlier if the appeal is successful – Chelsea will have to replace their aging squad. Given Arnesen's record so far, he should not be allowed to do it alone.

3. Achieve financial independence

Kenyon's bold proclamation that the club would be capable of breaking even by 2010 was quietly withdrawn earlier this year. There is no doubt that Chelsea are embarrassed by the fact that Roman Abramovich has now weighed in with around £700m to establish them as a major force.

There was never any chance that Chelsea would hit Kenyon's 2010's target which became a millstone around their necks. Now they simply say that it is still an objective but have not put a date on it. Reducing their losses would be a start and the transfer ban will help.

4. Tie up player contracts

In the absence of player acquisitions, Gourlay is fortunate that most existing senior players are signed to long-term deals. Joe Cole is the last one yet to agree a new deal but it is likely that Kenyon will oversee that contract before he leaves as it is he who has had most of the discussions with Cole.

Arnesen will handle these contracts from now on. He oversaw the sale of Claudio Pizarro to Werder Bremen in the summer. At £3m, the German club believe they got a bargain.

5. Build a bigger stadium

This is one that Gourlay could really get his teeth into, especially as Kenyon made little or no progress on it. Ideally Chelsea would like a 55,000-capacity stadium rather than the 41,841 ground they have. Stamford Bridge has the space to be extended but because of the site's limited exits those changes would never get planning permission.

Various alternative sites have been discussed including Earls Court exhibition centre, Chelsea Wharf and Wormwood Scrubs park. None of them have come up to scratch. If Chelsea have pretensions of being a really big club they must find a solution.

6. Do not turn the world blue

If Gourlay was to take one lesson from Kenyon it is that naff corporate sloganeering makes you look daft. Avoid.

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