Chelsea saved Premier League rivals Manchester City from bankruptcy when they agreed to the £21 million purchase of Shaun Wright-Phillips, according to former Citizens boss Stuart Pearce.
The Daily Mail reports how the former England international's transfer to west London in 2005 was instrumental in keeping the club afloat, as they continually struggled to manage their finances prior to Sheikh Mansour's takeover in 2008.
Pearce, now in charge of Championship outfit Nottingham Forest, managed for two years at the Etihad Stadium between March 2005 and May 2007, believes the club were very close to going under, before eventually being saved by a billionaire owner who has significantly changed their fortunes.
Stuart Pearce quotes:
"The club had sold the club shop, sold the ground to council, we were paying on the never and never for the [Nicolas] Anelkas of this world," he recalls in an interview with the Daily Mirror.
"It really was a case that the owners said, 'Unless Wright-Phillips goes, we go'. On the Monday morning they pressed the button and Chelsea put £21million in the bank which bails the club out [but] which puts pressure on me because you are selling your goal-scorer.
"The club has gone from strength to strength and now they are a world power and spending £150 million on a training complex. Times change."
Things could hardly be more different for Manchester City in the current era, having won two of the last three Premier League titles thanks to the blank chequebook of their Qatari board, paying big money to bring world-class players to England.
Chelsea are another club prospering from foreign ownership after Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's takeover in 2003. His wealth has also propelled the Blues into the higher echelons of the Premier League, and helped them claim their first Champions League trophy in 2012.
Jose Mourinho has splashed almost £80 million on the acquisitions of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis this summer, flexing his club's financial muscle as they begin their pursuit of more trophies in 2014/15.
City's summer business
However, Manuel Pellegrini is also believed to be closing in on the £32 million capture of Eliaquim Mangala - a transfer that simply wouldn't have been possible when Pearce was in charge under the previous regime.
The champions are now preparing for Sunday's Community Shield clash against Arsenal at Wembley, and as the 2014/15 campaign fast approaches Chelsea fans could be forgiven for wandering what might have been had their club decided against buying Wright-Phillips and ultimately saving their title rivals from the brink of extinction.
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