Chelsea's world plan is 'fantasy' - Hill-Wood

September 25, 2007

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has marked the Gunners' emergence as Britain's richest club by dismissing Chelsea's plans for world football domination as 'fantasy'.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon has made no secret of his desire to make the Blues the world's leading football brand by 2014 but their progress has been checked by the departure of manager Jose Mourinho last week.

Just 25,000 fans turned out to watch their opening Champions League game at Stamford Bridge last Tuesday, a 1-1 draw with Rosenborg, while a night later the Emirates' 62,000 capacity was sold out for the Gunners' 3-0 win over Sevilla.

And, despite the quick appointment of Avram Grant as Mourinho's successor, a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday has left the Blues five points behind leaders Arsenal having played an extra game.

'It's bulls***,' Hill-Wood said. 'I don't want to run Chelsea down, but one has to concede Manchester United and Liverpool are probably the biggest names in UK football and probably throughout the world.

'For Chelsea to think they are suddenly going to dominate United and Liverpool is fantasy. It's not going to happen.

'I found it very surprising Chelsea only had 25,000 for a Champions League game [against Rosenborg at Stamford Bridge last Tuesday].

'Our fan-base probably started in the 1930s and it's been handed down from father to son and so forth. It takes 100 years to build and about 100 minutes to destroy. Money is irrelevant to history and how big your club is.'

The Gunners supremo, celebrating yesterday's announcement that the club's turnover has broken the £200million barrier, has stated the board will not sell any more shares in the club despite recent purchases by Alisher Usmanov and Stan Kroenke.

And with profits up nearly £30million and a surplus in excess of £73million, Hill-Wood believes the club's fiscal policy has justified their decision not to follow the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in accepting foreign takeovers.

'I don't think that Abramovich [the Chelsea owner] has helped the Russian cause,' he said. 'The board is completely united and have no intention of not remaining so. The idea of us selling out to whoever is simply not on the agenda.'

He added: 'I like to feel that we are a stable business run by reasonably civilised people who live in England - for the most part, although [the largest-single shareholder and Swiss resident] Danny Fiszman doesn't all the time.'