ABU DHABI // Peter Kenyon, the former chief executive of Chelsea, said Manchester City are fielding the same criticisms levied at the London club when Roman Abramovich bought them back in 2003, with their owners accused of not understanding the English game because they are foreign. City, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, have come under fire for sacking manager Mark Hughes last month less than six months after handing him a sizeable war chest for a summer spending spree. Some supporters said the decision was too hasty and was done because the Abu Dhabi-based owners did not appreciate the need for patience when it comes to winning trophies in England.
The club defended the dismissal, stating Hughes was not winning enough games to secure a top-four Premier League finish and indicated he was unwilling to augment his coaching staff with more high-profile appointments. Kenyon, however, defended the decision, saying it was made with both football and business reasons in mind. "It's not where the owners come from, it's their objectives. The owners at Manchester City have invested in the club and genuinely seem to want to be integrated into the city," he said. "Providing they are good owners and invest for the right reasons, then that is great for the sport. From my experience at Manchester United and Chelsea, the people who owned them were very passionate about it. It is important to be a fan, because I don't believe ownership is strictly financial."
Kenyon pointed to Abramovich as the prime example of a foreign owner whose interest was not just confined to the boardroom. "Roman has been there for six years and he has invested heavily," added Kenyon. "He's a fan. He goes to games. It's his money and Chelsea is debt free. In all those ways I think he is a great owner for Chelsea certainly." After five years as chief executive at the Blues, Kenyon stepped down in September amid reports he was being marginalised in the decision-making process at Stamford Bridge.
"From a player prospective, there were none of the reported problems," countered Kenyon. "There has always been a way of signing players where the coach has been involved, the board always signed off on it. "All the stories that the board or Roman would go out and buy a player without the manager's knowledge are way off the mark." After leaving Kenyon joined the US sports agency, Creative Arts Agency, where he is responsible for developing athlete representation and growing their sponsorship and media rights division.