Tuesday 20 May ~
Chelsea employ a huge range of people to handle their public relations, with former editors of the Sun and the News of the World on the payroll to assist the club's communications director Simon Greenberg, some of whose workload will be taken on next season by the deputy press secretary at the British embassy in Washington who is to become the club new “head of media”. But short of buying a controlling stake in all the daily newspapers, the club are unable to stop inconvenient transfer rumours leaking out. So it is today with Inter's interest in Frank Lampard once again splashed across the back pages.
Inter's owner Massimo Moratti is said to be confident that Lampard is on his way, despite claims to contrary by the player's agent Steve Kutner. The prospect that Lampard may be about to play his last game for Chelsea is widely assumed to be a bad thing, with the Mail's reports on the story suggesting that this news will “throw into chaos” Chelsea's preparations for the Champions League final tomorrow, while the Express claims it will “damage dressing room morale”. This would be true were Chelsea run the way other professional football clubs are run. But, as we know, that is far from being the case.
Avram Grant has taken a team to a European final and to within a whisker of wining the Premier League yet every day there are rumours about his job being under threat. No one who works for Chelsea is able to effectively quash such rumours because they clearly have no idea what Roman Abramovich is thinking. Chelsea's owner appointed Grant because they pair had become friends when Abramovich started to take an interest in Israeli football. But now Abramovich is spending most of his time in Moscow, cultivating his relationship with the government and spending a fortune on art as gifts for his girlfriend.
While he's away chief executive Peter Kenyon has to pretend that all is running smoothly and that he is in control of the business but he's not – everything that happens at Chelsea is at the whim of the governor of Chukotka. Perhaps he will sell the whole team if they embarrass him in front of his high-powered friends in Moscow tomorrow and replace them with a squad of Brazilians. If he does, expect to see if confidently and extensively spun as “part of a bold global strategy for Chelsea Football Club”.