Former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates has criticised the club’s owner Roman Abramovich and his new regime, describing the recent signings as “mercenaries” and the Russian’s treatment of manager Claudio Ranieri “shameful.”

Iin an interview with Sky Sports News, Bates also said the club would pay a price for adapting Russian business practices and in particular the way in which coach Claudio Rannieri has been treated.

“The way Ranieri has been treated is quite shameful,” he said, “and he doesn’t deserve it.

“I think the job he’s done this season, could you do your job if you were being vilified every day in the press and media? And not lose your temper but smile and make a joke?

‘He’s a gentleman – the Russians don’t deserve him. I speak to Claudio and he’s a proud man and I think he’s done a great job.”

Bates, no stranger when it comes to sacking managers himself , was critical of the protracted and highly visible debate being conducted over Ranieri’s fate.

“I’ve sacked a few managers in my time but I’ve done it – bang, out. I haven’t done it by death of a thousand cuts.

“If you want to change your manager, you change the manager but there’s a way of doing it and a way of not doing it.”

Bates also said Stamford Bridge was turning into a stopover destination for mercenary players interested solely in lining their pockets.

‘Some of the players signed this year are only highly paid mercenaries,’ added Bates.

‘They don’t give a damn about Chelsea, they just give a damn about their wage packets and it’s interesting that not many of the new players, the foreigners, have made it into the team successfully,” he said.

And Bates, never a man to hold back, was equally critical of the way in which the club was being run.

“I think Chelsea are losing the reputation that was built up over the last 20 years. I treated the staff well and got an extra 10% out of them but they’re in danger of losing that, if it hasn’t been lost already. It’s a great pity, the staff and the fans are what makes the club.’

Asked if that was down to Abramovich, Bates replied: “It’s his henchmen. Remember, if you’re aged under 80, you’ve only ever lived under communism and the communist way of life is very different from the western way of life.

“People below you are treated like dirt and the people above you, you grovel to. It’s not the way of doing things in England and they are learning that the hard way.

“They will end up losing all the good people because they’ll be headhunted elsewhere.”