Following the news that Aston Villa might be targetting Peter Kenyon as CEO under the new ownership of this great club, I thought I’d ask Merlin of Vital Chelsea his opinion and as always, he’s come up trumps for me.
Asked by the Vital Villa editor, J. Fear, to pen a few words on what Peter Kenyon might do for Aston Villa if he were to be recruited by the new investors, I jumped at the chance.
But, in doing so I wanted to do something a little different, I didn’t want to just state fact after fact and infer that Kenyon will perform miracles at Villa Park, that’s something that would require a whole chain of events to take place, instead I wanted to share something of a different nature with you.
Kenyon arrived at Chelsea in 2003, after leaving his post at Manchester United, to become part of what we all saw as something of a revolution.
At Chelsea, we’d overseen the end of the Ken Bates era and were entering a new dawn, an era where money was no object. Roman Abramovich had bought the club with the intention of turning it into a major force.
Roman knew the club needed an overhaul to do so and Kenyon was brought in to oversee the changes in the club, dealing with the acquisition of what turned out to be a plethora of players whilst also developing the commercial side of the club to, eventually, be self-sustaining, but that’s a dream we’re still chasing.
Behind the scenes though, Kenyon was a major part of setting up the ‘Fans Forum’ which comprised of representatives from various fan groups.
Ahead of the 2004 / 2005 season, I was fortunate enough, as a contributor to a Chelsea fanzine, to represent that fanzines readership on the forum.
We were tasked with bringing what we perceived to be problems to the attention of the board.
One such problem was the seat allocation the away supporters were given inside Stamford Bridge. At the time, depending on how many tickets they could sell, the away club were given one half of the East Stand lower tier or both.
It was felt that it gave the opposition a boost, their fans were the closest to the pitch and the noise they generated was, on occasion, acting like a twelfth man.
Backed by the support, the Forum opted to mount a campaign to get them moved and I was charged with presenting the case to Kenyon.
After compiling a legitimate case, all contained within a box folder and with hundreds of views printed off supporting our objective, I eagerly awaited the chance to present it.
Sat inside a panelled office within the confines of Stamford Bridge, the Forum members awaited the arrival of Kenyon.
Walking in, idle chit-chat was exchanged before proceedings commenced and the agenda was started.
Now, at the time, the tabloid press was delving into Kenyon’s personal life, something they’re pretty good at.
As my agenda item approached, I bent down to retrieve my folder from my bag, lifting it onto the table and just as Kenyon announced the agenda item, he glanced at the folder before remarking:
“It looks like you’ve got a better case than the tabloid lot have.”
It bought a burst of laughter to the room and from then on in, reputations counted for nothing, we were all equal and nobody was afraid to air their views.
As it happens, the away support was moved at Stamford Bridge, to the corner of the Shed End but, yes, you’ve guessed it, people are objecting to their presence there now!
If Kenyon does make a return to football, with Villa, I certainly think his presence will benefit your club, he has a wealth of experience and a track record that few can match, he’s also very approachable and not afraid to listen to and take on board what the supporters are saying.
I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for an official announcement.