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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 23:26 GMT
Ken's final farewell
By John May

Chelsea chairman Ken Bates
The end of that most venerable of football institutions - Ken Bates' Chelsea programme notes - was the hint that the 72-year-old was on his way out at Stamford Bridge.

And with the news confirmed on Tuesday with a terse statement from his office: "Ken Bates is no longer chairman of Chelsea Football Club as of 10.30pm," the end of the Bates era is complete.

The man who once lorded it over Chelsea has been gradually eased away from the centre of power at Stamford Bridge.

The first big move came with his decision to sell the club to Roman Abramovich for 17m and the turning tide was emphasised by the arrival of former Manchester United supremo Peter Kenyon as chief executive.

The recruitment of Kenyon issued the message that there was no room for Bates' trademark abrasion and confrontation in the new touchy-feely Chelsea image.

Dubbed a journalist a "talentless twit" and "gutless louse"
Called for players wages to be docked while serving suspensions
Ascribed John Terry's arrest to players' "attitude to pleasure reminiscent of 18-30 holidays."
Branded US nationals "cowards" for their refusal to travel to Britain

There can be no doubt that his passing will not be mourned by all.

And many, like former Chelsea legend Peter Osgood who was banned from the ground after criticising Bates, will positively rejoice.

But love him or loathe him, Bates, like his programme notes, could never be ignored.

Bates' writings epitomised their author. He might have looked like a jolly old uncle, but Bates was really the cantankerous old granddad who cussed and tutted from his favourite armchair.

In 21 years of soap-box oratory, Bates threatened to erect electrified fences, branded the FA's disciplinary commission "a laughing stock" and discussed the decline in British moral standards.

But despite his easy to caricature literary efforts, Bates surely deserves a more lasting memorial from Chelsea than to be remembered as a red-faced ranter.

A footballing cretin like Ken Bates writes in his notes that we came along and played for penalties
Former Leicester boss Martin O'Neill
When he took over at Chelsea 22 years ago, Bates ploughed a considerable amount of the fortune he made in concrete and dairy farming into the debt-ridden club.

Chelsea would soon lose their top-flight status, and were playing in a crumbling hulk of a ground.

But he made it plain early on that he was not in it for a quick buck, but was a man digging in for the long haul.

He loved Chelsea and revelled in the position and kudos being chairman of his club gave him.

The sudden injection of Abramovich's millions has tended to obscure the fact that Chelsea were already a top four team, with a multi-talented squad, playing in a fantastically rebuilt stadium.

Bates had created the perfect product for somebody looking to buy off-the-shelf.

He did upset a lot of people, and his treatment of Osgood will be the proof for many that those who live by the sword, die by the blade.

But even though his time at Chelsea is over, we have probably not heard the last from Chairman Ken just yet.

Bates 'gagged' by Chelsea
09 Feb 04  |  Chelsea

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