From The Times:
Peter Kenyon recently talked of his mission to establish Chelsea as the world's biggest club by 2014, but, to judge from Manchester United's assessment of the London club's commercial prowess, it will prove to be mission impossible.
While the Glazer family, in the business plan that accompanied their recent refinancing of United, express trepidation at Chelsea's muscle in the transfer market, it seems they have rather less regard for them as a commercial force. In an appraisal of the commercial strategies of United's European rivals, the Glazers express admiration for Real Madrid but little or no concern about Chelsea as a business.
"Since Roman Abramovich acquired Chelsea in 2003, the club has invested in excess of £300 million on new players," the United business plan says. "As a consequence, the club's wages and salaries bill is currently in excess of £108 million and the business generates pre-tax losses.
"Chelsea is recognised as being in a league of its own in the transfer arena, and no other Premiership club can compete with the Abramovich firepower. As a consequence, Chelsea's rivals seek to attract players based on club heritage and almost guaranteed first-team football.
"Chelsea is aiming to grow revenues in the commercial revenue stream and last year negotiated a five-year shirt deal with Samsung worth an estimated £10 million per year. The club has also negotiated a new £12 million-per-year kit deal with adidas. While Chelsea has had some success with commercial negotiations, its lack of brand appeal and its limited fan-base beyond the UK make it a less compelling commercial partner."
"The club's strategy has been underpinned by recruiting world-class players such as (David) Beckham, (Zinédine) Zidane and Ronaldo. Their presence has facilitated a transformation of commercial revenues from sponsorship, merchandising and licensing that people around the world can identify with and buy into."
United supporters may be concerned at this admiration for Real's flawed policy, but there is a belief at Old Trafford that Sir Alex Ferguson already has his own galácticos in Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
It is equally clear that the "superstar" signing for whom the additional £25 million transfer funds have been set aside will be a figure with similar crowd-pulling and shirt-selling potential, rather than a more pragmatic signing such as Owen Hargreaves, the Bayern Munich midfield player.
One aspect of Real's strategy that United appear eager to embrace is in increasing their commitment to pre-season and end-of-season tours as well as one-off exhibition matches. It is emphasised in their business plan that "Real garnered in excess of £15 million in 2005-06 from this revenue stream versus United's £3 million".
It might also be noted that their players complained of fatigue last season and did not win a trophy.
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