| To get Chelsea into G-14, Kenyon may have to beg with United
Manchester United will have the power to take devastating revenge on Chelsea for poaching Peter Kenyon by blackballing their Premiership rivals from the prestigious G-14 group of the richest football clubs in the world later this year.
The G-14 group, who include Real Madrid, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and AC Milan, were set up in 2000 by a group of directors, including Kenyon, to look after the financial interests of the biggest clubs and potentially establish a European super league.
Admission has to be approved by a unanimous vote, which means that United’s new chief executive, David Gill, who on Tuesday also succeeded Kenyon as vice-chairman of G-14, could prevent Chelsea joining.
More than £15 million was wiped off United’s market value with a four per cent slump in the share price on Tuesday in the wake of Kenyon’s exit. And the secrets he takes with him to Stamford Bridge will be of concern to United, as he was instrumental in the transfer and contract negotiations of many high-profile players.
Kenyon has been told by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich that his priority as chief executive will not be the handling of transfers or setting up a merchandising operation, but increasing the influence of Chelsea in the Football Association and Europe.
To get Chelsea into the G-14, Kenyon will not only have to beg with the club he has been accused of betraying but will also have to persuade Paris St Germain, with whom he fell out over the Ronaldinho transfer saga this summer.
He is not seen by Chelsea as the man to handle their transfer affairs — especially after Sir Alex Ferguson had to intervene during Kenyon’s failure to land Ronaldinho — and they have so much financial clout that selling shirts in the Far East is not a priority.
Abramovich is confident that football agent Pini Zahavi is the ideal man to manage his transfer kitty. In Eugene Tenenbaum, a Canadian, and Richard Creitzman, he has brought two experienced executives to the club to manage his huge financial input.
What he sought in Kenyon was a football administrator who had good contacts and an understanding of the FA as well as Uefa and G-14.
However, forcing Chelsea into G-14 could prove a tough proposition. G-14, who have clubs from England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland and Portugal, next meet in Lyons on November 17.
The group have had 18 members since August when Kenyon voted with other members to include Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen, Lyons and Valencia. Genevieve Berti, the G-14 communications manager, confirmed that Chelsea were one of the clubs considered as part of the expansion but were edged out by Arsenal, who had a better Champions League record and were financially more powerful.
“There is no criteria for clubs to join, the only procedure is for the general assembly of all 18 clubs to decide that it is time to open their doors up to a new member,” she said.
“If that decision was to take place then every member would have their own ideas on who to invite.”
Gill conceded that Kenyon’s exit had come as a “complete and utter shock” to United but added: “We don’t believe it’s a power switch. The changes won’t affect what happens on the pitch. The institution of Manchester United is very strong and it’s up to us as a board to make sure we protect and develop that institution.
“This is just an evolution. The speed of it and Peter going to a competitor raises the interest levels, but I don’t think it detracts from what we’re doing.”
The position of current Chelsea chief executive Trevor Birch is unclear. Birch is reported to have met Abramovich’s aides on Tuesday and been offered the post of managing director.