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Football: BATES FACES CHELSEA EXIT.

Byline: JOHN CROSS

CHELSEA chairman Ken Bates is likely to follow former chief executive Trevor Birch out of Stamford Bridge as Roman Abramovich continues his Russian revolution.

Bates has remained in his position at Chelsea even after pocketing a pounds 35million pay-out after Abramovich's takeover and has even got a two-year retirement plan before he stands down and takes a non-executive place on the board.

But Bates' departure is likely to be sooner after Peter Kenyon's defection from Manchester United to take over as Chelsea's new chief executive.

Kenyon and Bates do not see eye-to-eye and Israeli super agent Pini Zahavi is also putting pressure on Abramovich to get rid of the Chelsea chairman.

It is understood that Abramovich and Kenyon are aware that outspoken Bates' could embarrass the club at a time when Chelsea are trying to improve their public image. A Chelsea insider said: "Pini has Abramovich's ear and that meant bad news for Birch and could be bad news for Bates.

"There are a few regrets that Bates was not bought out lock, stock and barrel when the takeover happened."

Kenyon and Bates have clashed at Premier League meetings and it is understood that Kenyon is certain to represent Chelsea at future meetings.

That friction could be bad news for Bates and end his 20-year love affair with the club he bought for pounds 1 and saved from bankruptcy.

CAPTION(S):

SECOND OUT: Bates could follow Birch
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 16, 2003
Words:240
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