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Abramovich to cut Chelsea spending

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LONDON, England -- Big-spending Chelsea will cut down on buying players in future years, according to billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.

"Our strategy is to bring up our own players through the academy, which we have invested a lot in, and we hope that will give results," the Russian was quoted as saying in the Observer newspaper.

"We will be spending less in the transfer market in future years."

Since Abramovich took over Chelsea in 2003, the club has spent some 276 million pounds ($540m; 412m euros) on transfers.

This year alone, Chelsea have signed striker Andriy Shevchenko for a British-record fee of 30 million pounds ($59m; 44m euros) and agreed to pay German international midfielder Michael Ballack one of the highest wages in world soccer.

Abramovich dismissed talk that his influence threatened to turn soccer into an elitist sport and denied he wanted Chelsea to play in a European "Super League."

"I don't see the risk of that," he said in his first interview for three years. "Money plays an important role in football but it is not the dominating factor.

"I don't have an opinion about Chelsea playing in a Super League," Abramovich added. "My feeling would be that you lose something of the beauty of the Premiership by joining something not defined at the moment.

"When Chelsea play a Carling Cup (League Cup) game in a small city and it could result in a draw -- the excitement, the spirit, the atmosphere -- that's the real beauty of football in England."

Abramovich made his fortune from oil when Russia's public utilities were privatized in the 1990s.

Methods questioned

In inflating soccer's transfer market, Chelsea's methods have also been questioned. Last year the club was found guilty of illegally approaching defender Ashley Cole while he was still under contract with Arsenal. Cole moved to Chelsea in August.

When asked if his business practices were too aggressive, Abramovich replied: "It's difficult to say."

Abramovich's influence has turned defending champion Chelsea into the club people love to hate.

"Everyone likes the situation where the leader loses," Abramovich said. "We don't have financial problems -- that's probably also a factor. But you need to give credit: the number of Chelsea fans has increased substantially. There are two groups: ones who love the team and those who don't like it."

Abramovich said he was not involved in team selection, including that of his friend Shevchenko who is still struggling to settle.

"I cannot say I'm completely not involved in buying a player, but my role would be significantly lower than that of the manager's," he said. "You cannot compare them."

Abramovich said he did not have "friendly relations" with manager Jose Mourinho, but added they were "warm enough."

"Generally speaking, I treat him with great respect and not only because of his football achievements," he said.

Abramovich also denied he would lose his interest in soccer after a few years.

"People who know me said I will win one or two Premierships and will not be interested after that," he said. "The reality is that we've won two Premierships but I'm more excited about this particular season than last year or the year before.

"I am a fan of special nature. I'm getting excited before every single game. The trophy at the end is less important than the process itself."


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Abramovich wants Chelsea to bring more players through their youth academy.

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