Nouveau riche Chelsea FC is now firmly part of the English football elite. Its corporate social responsibility report and new 'global' charity partnership with sports charity Right to Play was personally endorsed by Conservative leader David Cameron and sports minister Richard Caborn last month. In pre-Abramovich times it would probably have been Tony Banks from Labour and David Mellor for the Tories.
Right to Play describes itself as an "athlete-driven humanitarian organisation".
It was formed by four-time Norwegian speedskating Olympic gold-medallist Johann Olav Koss, now its president and chief executive. It works in 22 developing countries, using sport to help children and young people affected by HIV/Aids, war and disability. The charity uses international athlete ambassadors, which is where Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and England midfielder Frank Lampard come in.
The global scope of Right to Play is a major part of its attraction for Chelsea, which has recently been trying to break into the Chinese market with the launch of a Mandarin Chinese website. Right to Play says it was surprised by the high level of recognition for the Chelsea brand when the partnership launched in the US.
"The club has global ambitions, and we need our CSR to reflect that," says Simon Greenberg, Chelsea's communications director. "We accept the responsibilities that come with those objectives." But the six-year partnership will not see Right to Play's bank balance swell with direct donations from the club. "We believe we make a greater impact for a cause by leveraging awareness," says Greenberg. "We donate very little. It's more about the active participation by our players, fans and staff."
Chelsea will also continue to support its English charity partner, Clic Sargent.