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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 22:04 GMT
Bates leaves Chelsea
Ken Bates
Ken Bates has stepped down as Chelsea chairman after being sidelined following Roman Abramovich's 140m takeover of the club.

The outspoken 72-year-old announced an end to his 22 years at the club in a speech to staff and supporters.

"Ken Bates is no longer chairman of Chelsea Football Club as of 10.30pm," read a statement from his office.

Bates' position at Stamford Bridge was weakened by the appointment of new chief executive Peter Kenyon last year.

And he was replaced by American lawyer Bruce Buck as chairman of the Chelsea Village parent company last month.

His notorious column in the club's matchday programme was then axed and he was not even on the official club flight out to Stuttgart for last week's Champions League tie.

Bates broke the news at his monthly Chairman's Supper Club, telling 100 guests during a question and answer session he had been determined to make a "clean break" so as not to outstay his welcome.

"Certain things were agreed in July but they have not gone as planned," Bates said.

Chelsea owe him a great deal as he has left a club that is enormously successful
Tony Banks,
MP and Chelsea supporter
"It is in the best interests of the club that Peter Kenyon runs Chelsea in his own style rather than me being on side.

"There has been a clash of eastern and western cultures and eastern and western values."

Under the terms of Abramovich's takeover, Bates was said to have a contract to remain as football club chairman until the end of next season, when he was then due to become a life president of the club in its centenary year.

Instead he has opted to stand-down just a few weeks after Kenyon finally took up his post following his six-month enforced "gardening leave" from Manchester United.

Russian ambitions

Bates leaves with Chelsea unrecognisable from the club he bought for 1 in 1982.

In his 22 years he secured the future of Stamford Bridge amid a battle with property developers and oversaw the creation of the Chelsea Village empire.

He also oversaw success on the pitch having lured first Glenn Hoddle, then Ruud Gullit and finally Gianluca Vialli to the club.

Under that trio Chelsea won the FA Cup in 1997 and 2000, as well as the Cup Winners' Cup and Coca-Cola Cup in 1998.

It is no real surprise looking at the pattern of how things have gone
John Hollins,
Chelsea manager 1985-88
They also reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2000 under Vialli but Bates still took the decision to replace the Italian with Claudio Ranieri later that year.

But Bates had stretched his business financially and, with an enormous wage bill and the bottom falling out of the European television rights market, Chelsea were in trouble again.

The club was heavily in debt by the time Bates sold his shares to Abramovich last July, the Russian wiping out debts of 80m as well as providing Bates with a considerable personal fortune.

Ironically it is the Russian's ambition to take Chelsea to an even higher level - bringing in Kenyon and other backroom personnel as well as spending 137m on players - which has finally forced Chelsea's controversial and colourful chairman to quit.

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