Abramovich should get more credit, says Ron Gourlay

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 4:37am

Roman Abramovich has not received the recognition he deserves for turning Chelsea into one of Europe's biggest soccer clubs in his decade as owner, according to the team's chief executive.

The Russian billionaire, who bought the Premier League team in 2003, "doesn't get as much credit as he should" for shaking up the sport's established order, Ron Gourlay said in an interview in Brazil.

It's never been our intention to make as many changes as we have, but love us or hate us, our model has worked

"I don't think that worries him, it probably worries one or two more of us," Gourlay said. "It would be nice for him to get more feedback on that, but at the end of the day I think he just wants us to be pushing the football club forward."

Since buying the west London team for £140 million (HK$1.61 billion) including debt, Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea's 108-year history.

"He put Chelsea back on the map and we went from strength to strength," Gourlay said.

Following his initial spree, Abramovich has spent about £700 million more on talent and covered the same amount in losses, according to club accounts. Although the regulatory environment meant Chelsea may not be able to spend as lavishly as in the past, Abramovich was ready to pay for top players who could help mount a sustained challenge for honours, according to Gourlay.

"Our whole business model is building on the success of the football team," he said. "It's not everybody that likes our model, but at the end of the day when people sit down they can say we have delivered trophies and we've taken our football club to an extraordinary level."

Chelsea's success has come even as Abramovich changed the club's manager 10 times, an average of one coach per year.

"It's never been our intention to make as many changes as we have, but love us or hate us, our model has worked," Gourlay said. "[Jose Mourinho] is the first time we've given any manager a four-year contract. That's a real statement to say ... we want the continuity and we believe in Jose we have the man to do that."