Ken Bates sues Chelsea

2004-03-10 18:44

London - Former Chelsea chairperson Ken Bates is suing the club following his acrimonious departure from Stamford Bridge earlier this month, the English Premiership high-flyers confirmed on Thursday.

In a statement, Chelsea said: "We can confirm that Ken Bates has instituted legal proceedings against Chelsea Village plc (the team's parent company) and Chelsea Football Club for breach of contract.

"We will be vigorously defending this action as we are satisfied that we have behaved both responsibly and honourably in every way in our dealings with Ken Bates.

"Ken Bates has resigned his position as chairperson of Chelsea Football Club and is no longer a director."

The 72-year-old Bates, was reported to be seeking a £2 million settlement from Chelsea who on Tuesday obtained a Champions League quarter-final place following a goalless home draw with Vfb Stuttgart.

Bates, who helped save the west London club from bankruptcy when he took over two decades ago, lost control of Chelsea before this season got underway in July when he sold the team to Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich in a £140 million deal.

Last month he was replaced as chairperson of the club's Chelsea Village parent company by American lawyer Bruce Buck, leaving Bates with a purely honorary title.

To remain as chairperson

He had become increasingly disenchanted with the new regime, a feeling exacerbated by the arrival of former Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon at Stamford Bridge.

In a clear sign of Bates's declining influence, recently his matchday programme articles - much treasured over the years by Chelsea fans - were abruptly axed and he was not even on the official club flight out to Germany for the first leg of the Stuttgart match.

When Abramovich took over Bates signed a two-year deal to remain as chairperson of Chelsea, currently second in the Premier League but nine points behind leaders and London rivals Arsenal. When that ended he was due to be installed as Chelsea's life president.

Although there was no salary linked to the contract, Bates was reportedly receiving travel expenses and other allowances worth £200 000 a year while continuing to represent the club at Football Association and Premier League meetings.