No panic but Blues can spend if needed

Adrian New, Chelsea's managing director for Asia, said: "If we needed to go out to spend £70 million to £80 million, we could."
Adrian New, Chelsea's managing director for Asia, said: "If we needed to go out to spend £70 million to £80 million, we could."ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Chelsea have endured a difficult start to the new English Premier League season but the club's hierarchy is adamant that the Blues still possess the financial muscle to compete with their rivals.

While leaders Manchester City, who hold an 11-point advantage over the defending champions after just five games, had a net expenditure of almost £100 million (S$217 million) in the summer, the West London club had a modest net spend of less than £20 million.

But there is no need to panic and reach for the cheque book yet, Chelsea's managing director for Asia, Adrian New, told The Straits Times yesterday.

"If we needed to go out to spend £70 million to £80 million, we could," he noted, adding that the speculation linking the Blues with Juventus star midfielder Paul Pogba showed the club's ability to compete for the game's biggest names.

"We're strong enough that through our success, we've got the money to do what we need to do."

Evidence from the past two seasons suggests otherwise.

While City and Manchester United have a combined net outlay of more than £250 million, Chelsea have made concerted efforts to balance their books. The last time Chelsea made a blockbuster statement was in 2011 when they paid a club-record £50 million for Spain striker Fernando Torres.

Money certainly plays a role but it does not guarantee trophies, stressed New, one of the panellists at a two-day Sports Matters conference at Marina Bay Sands.

"Without a great manager like Jose (Mourinho), you're still not going to have that success."

There is little reprieve though, as the Portuguese attempts to turn around Chelsea's worst start to a top-flight campaign in almost three decades. They have already racked up three losses, equalling their total tally from last season, and are a lowly 17th in the standings.

Such struggles for the top sides are becoming more commonplace, with more money distributed between the 20 clubs.

And with a record £5.136 billion television deal entering the equation next season, other English clubs are also likely to spend big.

In the recent transfer window, EPL sides splashed a record-breaking £870 million, with United forking out a reported £36.3 million on Anthony Martial.

The club's commercial director Jamie Reigle said such a trend is likely to continue.

"I think it's safe to say that next year, with the start of the new TV deal, not just United but all the Premier League clubs will be spending even more money," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2015, with the headline 'No panic but Blues can spend if needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe