LONDON: English Premier League club Chelsea have not yet decided the fate of coach Claudio Ranieri, chief executive Peter Kenyon said on Tuesday.
The Italian's job has been the subject of intense speculation since Russian oil magnate Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea last July and pumped in some £120 million for new players.
“Claudio's got three years on his contract. There's been no decision taken ... and there's been no one appointed,” Kenyon said at a supporters' dinner at Stamford Bridge.
Ranieri, who led the side to second in the Premier League and to the semi-finals of the Champions League, indicated last week he did not expect to be kept on and newspapers in Britain and Portugal have suggested Porto coach Jose Mourinho will succeed him.
Chelsea play their last game of the season against Leeds on Saturday and club chairman Bruce Buck said a decision would be taken in the next few weeks.
Press reports that a deal with another coach had already been agreed were “100% incorrect”, he said.
Several supporters heckled Kenyon, who was poached during the season from Manchester United to raise the London side's profile worldwide, accusing him of undermining Ranieri.
“Through all this period, we've conducted discussions on an on-going basis with Claudio,” Kenyon insisted.
Kenyon said the club would buy a few new players and lose some during the close season but would not be drawn on who his targets were nor how much the club had to spend.
Abramovich's billions have made Chelsea one of Europe's richest clubs and newspapers have been awash with rumours linking top players, including England captain David Beckham, France striker David Trezeguet and Brazil's Ronaldo, to the club.
Kenyon said, however, that England midfielder Frank Lampard, Chelsea's top player this season would stay, despite newspaper speculation that he would be enticed abroad or to Manchester.
Former chairman Ken Bates, who resigned earlier this year attended the dinner and had some acerbic exchanges with his successors, greeted by applause from the floor.
Bates is suing Chelsea for breach of contract.
“We believe we have fulfilled all our obligations but the lawsuit continues,” Buck, a lawyer and business associate of Abramovich, told his audience. – Reuters