An influential fans group have slammed the reported move of Manchester United chief executive to Barclaycard Premiership rivals Chelsea.
Kenyon is reportedly leaving his post at Old Trafford to take up a similar role at Stamford Bridge as the latest part of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s revolution at the west London club.
Oliver Huston, spokesman for Shareholders United, the Manchester United Supporters Trust, has also called into question Kenyon’s much publicised “loyalty” to the club he has supported since his father took him to watch the Red Devils European Cup final triumph in 1968.
“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,” he said.
But while Kenyon’s apparent departure from Old Trafford has been condemned by United fans, it has been welcomed by those close to Chelsea.
Former Chelsea chief executive Colin Hutchinson said: “It is a shock and is out of the blue, concerning the rivalry down the years between United and Chelsea.
“Obviously, as part of the new Chelsea they have brought the guy in to presumably try to surpass United.
“He is a very good businessman. I think it is fair to say that what he has done commercially has made them streets ahead in England as far as resources are concerned.
“If you look globally at their financial situation – compared to Real Madrid who have assembled a superb squad but also piled up a load of debt – they are on a sound footing.
“He will be a big loss to Manchester United.”
Kenyon, interestingly, will be moving from a plc with shareholders to satisfy to a newly-formed private company under Abramovich, where there will be less pressure to keep a tight hold on the purse strings.
Hutchinson told Sky Sports News: “I think the interesting thing is Chelsea, in recent times, has got its soul back and it is back to a football club.
“There has been a feeling among supporters over the last couple of years that perhaps the priority was not football and there was a distraction from the plc.
“I think obviously Peter will be involved throughout but it won’t make that much difference on a day-to-day basis to (manager) Claudio Ranieri. The football side has got its own structures.”
Former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale, who is set to take over at Second Division Barnsley, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Peter spent a lot of money when he bought Rio Ferdinand from me at Leeds so he is obviously used to writing big cheques and that is what probably attracted Roman Abramovich.”
Kenyon’s departure would leave a gaping hole in United’s administrative structure and it would not be easy to find a suitable and adequate replacement.
Managing director David Gill would be best-placed to take over, either in the short-term or even for a longer period.