In 1968 when Peter Kenyon was standing inside Wembley Stadium watching Manchester United lift the European Cup, the first English club to do it, he must have recognised he was supporting the biggest club in the World. Brought up as a United fan and attending the match with his Dad, I can only imagine he experienced the same joy every other red watching the game did, as Charlton, Best and Kidd found the back of the net.
When United fan Kenyon took over as the club’s chief executive in 2000 he must have felt really proud. Here he was, one of the top dog’s at the biggest club in the World. He first joined the club in 1997 as deputy chief excutive, and the feeling of pride between then and 2004 must have been overwhelming, seeing his team win the league five times, the FA Cup twice, as well as the European Cup.
When asked about his feelings on Roman Abromovic and Chelsea, Kenyon was quick to defend United, and claim that his club would still be competing. “We are not worried – why should we be?” he said. “Having money is not necessarily a route to automatic success. I am quite sure they will become a bigger force but it is our intention to keep Manchester United at the top, and we have the infrastructure in place to make that happen.” A few weeks later, he took the chief executive job at Chelsea.
The Shareholders United spokesperson voiced the feelings of thousands of fans when he said “Peter Kenyon has always made great play of his loyalty to the club and his dyed-in-the-wool support for Manchester United – how sad that his loyalty appears to have been so easily bought.” I think a lot of die hard fans like to have a very romantic idea of people associated with their club. They think they would work for free for their team, and that if they ever got the opportunity to play for their club they’d never leave. Because United have had players like Scholes, Giggs, Neville who have committed themsevles to our club for their whole career, it can often be presumed by United fans that others would do the same. Peter Kenyon was a red, but joined our biggest competative rivals just because they’d pay him more money.
A few years down the line, and Kenyon is still will Chelsea, and has seen Roman’s influence help in bringing sucess to the club. Ahead of the Manchester United and Chelsea game on Sunday, Kenyon has spoken out about the clubs’ status. Firstly, he said in the days before Roman Abromovich, Chelsea was “a fairly soulless place.” I’m not so sure this is something a lot of Chelsea fans would thank him for, and if anything, Chelsea lost their soul when the billionaire came in and bought them a whole new team. He then said he wanted Chelsea to be recognised as the biggest club in the World by 2014. He acknowledges this will be tough, and he’s not wrong. For a club who made losses of £140 million last year, the biggest ever in football history, thinking this aspiration is “ballsy” is an understatement!
An upbeat Alex Ferguson was talking about Sunday’s game earlier today, and was told of Kenyon’s comments. “I know Peter,” he laughed. “It was a nice time to say that stuff. His comments don’t bother me. I am hardly going to start quaking and trembling about them. There are all sorts of mythical tales about our club. All I know is that we have a great history and have all these supporters because we entertain. We will not change from that.”
Peter Kenyon once worked at the biggest club in the World, and he sold out. He may think because he helped United gain success on and off the field that it will take just a few years to do the same with Chelsea. It’s these latest comments which seem to confirm more than ever he wasn’t a proper red. United have something that Roman Abromovich will never be able to afford. History. A great history with great players and success, of exciting football, of massive achievements, of victories in cup finals and over death. Buying World class players every summer doesn’t touch on what United have.
So in conclusion, Chelsea to be the biggest club in he World by 2014? To quote a phrase Manchester man Peter Kenyon will be familiar with, “my arse they will.”