Kenyon, who left United to take up a similar post at Chelsea, believes that the fact that United shares are traded on the stock exchange means that they will always have the threat of a takeover hanging over them.

Speaking at the Soccerex Forum in London he said: “Within the industry the preference would always be for private ownership over public. There was a time that it was seen as the golden goose for clubs to go to market.”

“Manchester United gained liquidity in shares, which allowed some money to go
to key shareholders, but apart from about £16million the bulk of the £150-£160million we invested in players and stadia came from within the football club.”

“As a public company you are always in play, and in terms of long-term planning that makes life difficult. As a private business it means literally three of us (at Chelsea) can decide what to do.”

Kenyon underlined a five-year plan for the Blues, which he hopes will see the club become profitable by 2009.

He revealed the club would focus on four key markets; “London, Russia,where we feel we have a competitive advantage, China – not Asia – and north America.”