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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 March, 2004, 13:47 GMT
New broom sweeps into action
By Tom Fordyce

He has been at Chelsea for just 32 days, but already Peter Kenyon has made his mark in spectacular fashion.

A portrait photo of Peter Kenyon
Age: 49
On terraces when Man Utd won 1968 European Cup
Joined United from Umbro in 1997 as deputy chief executive
Took over as chief executive in 2000
Negotiated 30m sponsorship deal with Vodafone
Oversaw singings of Van Nistelrooy, Veron and Ferdinand
Quit for Chelsea in September 2003

On Tuesday Chelsea announced the arrival of Dutch prodigy Arjen Robben, stolen from under the noses of Kenyon's former club Manchester United.

Then, on Wednesday, Ken Bates resigned as club chairman, effectively ceding what remaining power he had to chief executive Kenyon.

After being forced to spend almost five months twiddling his thumbs while United and Chelsea sorted out the finer points of his move, Kenyon has hit the ground running at Stamford Bridge.

United insisted that Kenyon could not start work at Chelsea until 1 February, almost entirely because they were so concerned at the damage his insider's knowledge of United's targets could do while the transfer window was open.

It does not appear to have done them a great deal of good. PSV president Harry van Raaji told the world on Tuesday that Kenyon was instrumental in Robben moving to Chelsea rather than United at the end of this season.

"I've always been able to do good business with Peter Kenyon," said Van Raaji. "That was the case with the Stam and Van Nistelrooy transfers and again now he is with Chelsea.

"He is trustworthy and a man of honour who doesn't go back on his word, which is something Manchester United have done."

Pole position

Roman Abramovich was prepared to pay Kenyon 2.5m a year for several reasons, not least his track record of bringing on board big-money sponsors and expanding a football club into a global brand.

His experience in transfer dealings was ironically one of the less important factors - but Abramovich's personal fortune gives him all the ammunition he needs to make Chelsea as dominant a force as his old employers.

For all Van Raaji's new-found Chelsea love, the prime reason for Robben's switch to Stamford Bridge is likely to have been cold hard cash.

Chelsea offered 3.5m more than United. They are also bankrolling PSV's 7m signing of Brazilian defender Alex.

Like any other business, PSV want to get as high a price for their assets as possible. Because money is no object to Abramovich, that puts Chelsea - and Kenyon - in pole position.

Abramovich was believed to be angry at the way Arsenal nabbed Jose Antonio Reyes from under Chelsea's nose. Kenyon's instructions were thus simple: make sure you get Robben, even if it takes a silly bid.

United were confident that their 8.5m offer represented a good price for a 20-year-old with just four international caps.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Peter Kenyon at a news conference
Ferguson and Kenyon worked together well at Old Trafford

Chelsea, by contrast, do not operate in the same financial world as other Premiership clubs. 12m made sense to them, purely on the basis that it guaranteed they got their man.

It is not the first time that Kenyon has paid what most observers thought to be an inflated price for a player.

He was in charge of the negotiations that brought Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford for 12.24m, Juan Veron's 28m switch from Lazio and Rio Ferdinand's 29.3m transfer from Leeds.

This doesn't necessarily reflect badly on his bargaining skills, merely that each time he has been working for a club with the desire and resources to secure that particular player's signature.

Kenyon unwittingly gave himself a warning when he was first asked about Abramovich's arrival, while still at United.

"We are not worried - why should we be?" he said. "Having money is not necessarily a route to automatic success."

But the resources at his disposal - plus the weight of Abramovich's backing - make it extremely unlikely that this week's events will be his last successes at Stamford Bridge.

Bates leaves Chelsea
02 Mar 04  |  Chelsea
Robben joy at Chelsea move
02 Mar 04  |  Chelsea

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