CHELSEA yesterday named Ron Gourlay as their new chief executive.
The 46-year-old replaces Peter Kenyon, who announced on Wednesday that he would be stepping down from the position at the end of next month.
Gourlay, who was previously the chief operating officer at the London club, said: “It is a huge honour to be offered the chance to lead Chelsea.
“We have a fantastic team both on and off the field and those teams can move us on to even greater success in the future.
“To be responsible for that is a fantastic challenge and I will be giving it my total commitment, drive and energy. All successful clubs strike the balance between the footballing and commercial sides and my role is to ensure this happens as it is a critical part of our strategy moving forward.’’
Gourlay has been at Chelsea for five years in a variety of roles. He has more than 25 years of experience in football and past senior jobs include working at Manchester United and Umbro.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: “Ron was the outstanding candidate for the job. It was not necessary to look outside as we had someone with all the necessary attributes inside which was important as it ensures continuity and a smooth transition.”
Buck said Gourlay had the full support of the board and the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich. He added: “Ron has been a central figure in the commercial success of Chelsea in recent years and he has excellent operational experience and is thoroughly respected across the football side.
“We are absolutely confident that he can now take us forward into the next stage of our development as a club and business.”
Kenyon, who insists he has “at least one major challenge left”, will continue at the club on UEFA and the European Clubs’ Association committees and will be one of the representatives in the Gael Kakuta case, regardless of whether it is heard after his October 31 departure date.
Tom Cannon, who is the respected Professor of Strategic Development at the University of Liverpool Management School and a respected voice on business practices in the game, believes Gourlay is taking charge at a time when Chelsea’s future is looking better than ever.
Cannon said: “Peter Kenyon has made Chelsea a global brand. The truth is if you look at brands in world football, Chelsea are now one of them.
“They are top of the Premier League, perhaps have their best chance of winning the Champions League and have joined the £200m-a-year club (in turnover) in English football.
“We have seen a strengthening on all levels on the commercial side and been able to make Chelsea a power not just in the UK, but in European and global football.”
Meanwhile Croatian club Inter Zapresic have announced they have agreed a deal to sell young goalkeeper Matej Delac to Chelsea.
Zapresic say the 17-year-old shot-stopper will move to Stamford Bridge when the transfer ban imposed by Fifa has expired, in a deal believed to be worth €3m.
The club are hoping the young Croat will move within the next two years and sign a five-year contact with the Blues.
Zapresic director Branko Laljak said: “This transfer will save our club from bankruptcy.
“We are sure this transfer will help us, as now the whole world will know the name of our club.’’
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