FA chief Lord Triesman: Chelsea are ''pioneers''
The chairman of the FA, Lord Triesman, has described Chelsea as "pioneers" in making English football more international.
While Chelsea have felt targeted by FIFA and UEFA in recent years for their transfer policy, Russian owner Roman Abramovich will be proud that the FA recognises the club's place in forwarding the brand of English football, which includes so many world-class foreign stars.
Lord Triesman, speaking at the Leaders of Football business event at Stamford Bridge, described the West London stadium complex as "one of the most iconic sports venues."
He added: "It is hard to believe, as you look around now that there were times when the football club needed to rent Stamford Bridge out. I don't even want to imagine what the ground staff or Mr Abramovich would say if someone came along with such a proposal now.
"Today, Chelsea is at the forefront of a game that is more global than it has ever been. The club has been a pioneer in recent years as domestic football has become more international.
"By signing the very best European stars - Gianluca Vialli, Ruud Gullit, Gianfranco Zola - stars who enriched our game and who, in several cases, stayed on to pursue coaching, managerial and media careers in England. We learned from stars from around the world. We continue to do so today, and not least from Fabio Capello.
"Chelsea was the first club to win the FA Cup under a non-British manager when Ruud Gullit lifted the famous and oldest trophy 12 years ago. So few clubs symbolise or have lived the dream produced by the changes of the last 15 years more than this one.
"These are changes some might say are among the most profound since the birth of professional football. Changes that echoed throughout English football...and world football. Changes that have driven the process of football's globalisation."