Winner’s of last season’s Premiership, runaway leaders this season and with the FA Cup and Champions League still to play for, would you believe that Chelsea F.C. 2005-06 are history’s biggest losers? From the Guardian’s Richard Wray.
Yesterday Chelsea collected a new though rather unwelcome accolade by reporting a £140m financial loss, the largest in football history.
The west London club – whose spending power has appeared limitless since Roman Abramovich took charge – clocked up more than £50m of one-off charges related to the ditching of kit supplier Umbro, the sacking of Adrian Mutu and the release of the midfielder Juan Veron.
Chelsea also revealed that Mr Abramovich had pumped £166.6m into the club over the 12 months to the end of June 2005, taking his total investment to £381.5m, plus the £60m he spent buying out the club’s original shareholders more than two years ago.
The scale of the Premiership leader’s plunge into the red is even more dramatic than losses at big-spending continental clubs such as Real Madrid. It outstrips the £87.8m which Chelsea lost in the previous year, itself an English club record. The full cost of the race to win last season’s Premiership title – Chelsea’s first domestic league win in half a century – is revealed in the figures which show that £276m has been spent buying up players.
In a sideswipe at the takeover of his former employer, Manchester United, by the US billionaire Malcolm Glazer, Chelsea’s chief executive Peter Kenyon said the Russian oligarch was in the club for the long term. “The money that has been invested in Chelsea has all gone back into football, unlike some of the other recent changes of ownership. But we are not sat here saying we are happy with a £140m loss. We’re not. We want to get the club on to a level that is sustainable.”
Overall, Chelsea’s turnover in the year to the end of June last year – including merchandising and TV rights – actually dropped to £146.6m from £152.1m as the club sold off its travel agency. It is now looking for a partner to take on its hotel business, a legacy of the creation of Chelsea Village by its former boss Ken Bates, which Mr Bruce yesterday admitted had done the club few favours. “If we were starting from scratch we wouldn’t be building two hotels, we wouldn’t be building a sports club, we would not acquire a travel business but that’s what we have to work with … our intention is to make these businesses profitable because that’s what we have,” he said.