The average employee of Chelsea Football Club earns about as much as the boss of a FTSE 250 company.

Accounts for the company for the year to June 2004 state that the aggregate payroll costs of its 124 employees reached £102.5m.

This equates to an average of more than £826,000 per employee – £44,000 more than the 2004 pay package of a FTSE 250 chief executive, according to a study by KPMG business advisors.

Confirmation of the lavish rewards on offer at the Premiership’s richest football club comes at the end of a week in which Sepp Blatter, president of Fifa, the sport’s governing body, has warned that the game could be suffocated by new money flowing into it in a haphazard way.

Writing in the Financial Times, Mr Blatter spoke of a “football society of haves and have nots”, asking: “What is interesting about a league whose champions can be predicted with confidence after about five games?”

The west London side, owned by Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch billionaire who bought the club in 2003, already look to be romping away with the Premiership. Today they play Bolton at Stamford Bridge in pursuit of their ninth win in nine games.

The Chelsea figures cover 91 playing staff, including managers and coaches, and 33 administration and commercial workers.

The £102.5m total represents a sharp increase from the £45.2m disbursed the previous year, before Mr Abramovich took control.

Direct comparison bet-ween wages at Chelsea and those at other clubs is difficult because accounts elsewhere tend to include a broader range of employees.

Employee costs at Manchester United in the year to July 2004 reached £76.9m. But the average number of staff given in the accounts was 504, including just 69 players. This made for an average cost of little more than £150,000.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, professional football’s greasy pole, Mansfield Town, bottom of League Two – in effect the fourth division – paid 209 staff a total of just more than £1.5m in the year to June 2004. This made for an average per capita payout of £7,235.

MUST KEEP PAR Chelsea said its aggregate payroll cost in 2004 included a range of one-off termination payments amounting to almost £20m. Even if that is deducted, however, average payroll cost per employee works out at almost £670,000.

A separate set of accounts for Chelsea Ltd, Chelsea Football Club’s ultimate parent undertaking, makes clear that £224m of interest-free loans made by an unnamed party, presumed to be Mr Abramovich, are no longer repayable on demand. Instead 18 months’ notice must be given for repayment, which increases the club’s comfort-level should its deep-pocketed benefactor ever decide to ever walk away. The disclosure does not name Mr Abramovich, but it states that the loan’s provider had confirmedChelsea Ltd director E. Tenenbaum – had received confirmation from the loan’s provider “further funding” would be forthcoming to “provide sufficient financial support to the group as is required for the foreseeable future”.

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