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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Chelsea chairman a disgrace, says minister
Ken Bates
Chelsea boss Ken Bates: accused of being after a "fast buck"
Chelsea chairman Ken Bates is a "disgrace" for refusing to sign the football club up for a scheme to boost children's English and maths skills, the education secretary has said.

Charles Clarke called Mr Bates "out of order" and added he was showing the Chelsea chief the "yellow card" for being the only Premiership club not to take part.

"He won't sign up. He has got to ask himself is Chelsea a serious community club or is Ken Bates just looking for a fast buck?" Mr Clarke added.

He criticised Chelsea's failure to set up an after-hours study centre for primary and secondary pupils who struggled with English and maths under a scheme known as Playing For Success.

'I hope West Ham win'

Seventy-eight clubs from sports including rugby, cricket, basketball and football have set up centres since the scheme was launched by Tony Blair in 1997 and a further 10 are due to open in England.

Mr Clarke, who was on his way to opening centres at Division One clubs Burnley and Preston North End, said there was "no reason" why Chelsea was not involved.

"They are making all that money from TV rights and also from regular fans who pay at the gate.

"All the other Premiership clubs recognise that football provides motivation and excitement for young men and women.

"Most of them recognise they should use that to redistribute money and show a bit of commitment."

Mr Clarke said: "I say Ken Bates is a disgrace and Chelsea is a disgrace."

Bates bites back

But the Chelsea chairman retorted: "`Comical' Clarke is a joke. He is responsible for an education system that is in a state of collapse.

"If he did his job properly he wouldn't need gimmicks or personal abuse to hide the fact that he is a total failure.

"If Clarke had done any research, he would know that Chelsea have a large number of educational and community-related initiatives in place, but basic education isn't one of them.

"That is Clarke's job and he should get on with it or resign. As for `fast bucks', I don't take a penny from Chelsea.

"The only `fast bucks' at the present time are being made by the likes of `Comical' and his cohorts in his sleaze-ridden Government."

The BBC's James Westhead
"The Chelsea chairman is no stranger to verbal punch-ups"

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