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Top 5: First XI costs in Premier League

Transfers 6 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 11, 2006

Kenyon pours scorn on Mourinho rift rumours

Chelsea's chief executive Peter Kenyon has scotched rumours of a rift between him and coach Jose Mourinho.

Kenyon, currently in China along with London Mayor Ken Livingstone as part of the delegation to promote relations between Beijing and London ahead of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, said talk of a bust-up between the pair is pure 'fabrication'.

But while announcing Chelsea have offered the Chinese football team the use of the club's training facilities at Cobham in the lead up to the 2008 Games in Beijing, Kenyon also took time out to nail rumours of a rift between him and Mourinho.

Speculation has been rife the pair no longer speak and have clashed over the choice of transfer targets for next season.

But Kenyon stressed: 'I am 100% happy with him. It is just fabrication.'

The Chelsea chief also boasted the Londoners were now as big as Manchester United in China.

Kenyon laughed off suggestions they were losing fans in England and had opted to pursue lucrative markets abroad to make up for the shortfall at home.

'There is absolutely no evidence of that,' said Kenyon.

'We have seen our fan base go up by 300% in the last two years.

'We have been looking at research in China which shows we are as popular as Manchester United, whereas two years ago we were not even on the same radar scope.

'I think the importance of having a successful team is critical to all this and we are going in the right direction on that front,' he told BBC Radio London 94.9fm.

Kenyon revealed the club had been in discussion with the Chinese Football Association for several months over the team's possible use of Cobham ahead of the 2008 Olympics.

He added: 'The fact Chelsea has been appointed an ambassador to London was the prefect opportunity to cement our relationship and so we have offered them the use of the training facilities at Cobham for their Olympic team prior to 2008.

'Discussions are continuing over the next few days. In the next 12 months the developments at Cobham will give us one of the best training facilities in Europe.

'It is a good opportunity for them to experience that ahead of the Olympics.

'Chelsea is a staunch supporter of London as a city, the 2012 Olympics and also wants to continue to develop its football relations with China. These ideas could help promote and give benefit to Chinese football.'

Chelsea also see the visit as a chance to increase their share of merchandising through websites, mobile phones and shirt sales - among other areas.

Kenyon added: 'The Premier League is most popular one here and is watched regularly. London football and Chelsea are all on the agenda.

'China is one of our key strategic markets. London is one, north America and China are the other two. This is a long-term market, it is not a quick fix.

'It is about embedding ourselves in the footballing community and over a longer period of time developing business and political links in what will be the largest single economy - that is the objective.'