Almost Two Decades After Ken Bates Sold Chelsea to an Unidentified Russian Billionaire

How Legendary Ken Bates Became One of The Most Iconic Club Owners In English Football

Bagging an interview with Ken Bates is no easy feat. Despite speaking from his Monaco apartment, Bates proved a tough nut to crack, firing a barrage of questions at the interviewer, at one point insisting on lunch. But with Bates, the most distinctive club owner in recent English football history, it was worth the wait. In nearly two hours of conversation, Bates brings to life the story of how he turned Chelsea, which he bought for a pound in 1982, from a struggling Second Division side into an elite Premier League club. With serious investment in coaching and playing staff, Bates’s hands-on approach saw Chelsea win promotion the following season and spend 19 of the next 20 campaigns in the top flight, lifting the FA Cup twice, the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and League Cup during his tenure. Bates’s conversation was not limited to Chelsea’s success on the pitch, as he reflects on the modern obsession with possession football, the Government’s “pointless” regulations, and his distaste for a foreign ownership that turns clubs into “playthings.” It’s all covered in his upcoming autobiography, ghostwritten by his third wife, Suzannah, but Bates isn’t giving anything away: “Pay £21.99 on Amazon, the same as everyone else. You’ll love it.”

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