Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Part 3 here
Part 4 here
I couldn’t write a series of articles about the problems that surround the football club I’ve supported for 45 years without mentioning those that run the club. I’m not going to pretend I’ve a massive knowledge of all that goes on behind the scenes or for that matter that I care too much either.
My interest with CFC predominantly occurs on a match day, a few years ago, I could have said Saturday afternoon, but much has changed in football. In fact, the first line of Suggs song Blue Day is outdated with its first line ‘The only place to be every other Saturday line`. No matter.
The current owner of Chelsea, as we all know is Roman Abramovich, before I began writing on this board, I didn’t think too much about the Russian. I really only appreciated what he’d done in terms of bringing success to Chelsea. Maybe, that’s a simplistic point of view, but it’s all that matters to me. Having suffered watching Chelsea nearly plunge into the third tier of English football back in the eighties, Abramovich, with his money, bought trophies I never imagined my club winning.
When I read some of the various threads on here that occur at the mention of the oligarchs name, it’s clear that not everyone views him in my selfish way. To say that the way he runs Chelsea is source of trouble… troubles me. To see the man celebrate with his friends, family and entourage when a goal is scored, only adds to my respect for what he’s achieved.
As football fans, do we care, if he has a ‘shady` background, if indeed he does. At this point, I hold my hands up, and say no. I have no interest in Mr Abramovich`s business or political dealings other than how it impacts Chelsea. I’m simply a football supporter, more especially a Chelsea supporter, and view Abramovich as an incredibly wealthy version of myself.
I think I`ve said this before, fans at other clubs would love an owner like ours. He’s invested heavily and he attends games. Chelsea are not just a rich man`s toy as most, by which I mean media and pundits, would like to have made out back in 2003.
If there’s one area that I could be critical, and it`s the crux of ‘Where does the trouble lie at Chelsea Pt. 5`, it’s the secretive way the club operate. Abramovich himself rarely speaks. As a fellow fan, I’d like to hear the man talk about his ownership of Chelsea and how he views it. To me he clearly loves the club. To stay silent does lend itself to the theory that Roman is a James Bond-esque villain in a cave somewhere about to wreak havoc on the world.
Russia is still seen as country that operates in a covert, secretive way. For Abramovich, the need to remain silent is inbred. It`s in the makeup of any powerful politician or business man from that region. Maybe I`m stereotyping, but having grown up through the Cold War years it`s my perception.
The image of Abramovich and his henchwoman Marina Granovskaia sitting in the Russian`s office stroking a cat as he pushes the next manager button, is a powerful one. OK maybe that`s taking it too far, but you get my drift. We/I know that managers come and go with an alarming regularity and sometimes that`s hard to take or understand. The flip side of that is in Chelsea`s trophy cabinet. One thing`s for sure, the Abramovich years have never been boring.
A question I often ask myself, actually I don`t, but I am now, is where would we be had Roman not arrived. In truth probably not far off where we are today. Ken Bates tenure was certainly reaching the end of the line and someone would have jumped in and invested. Chelsea FC are based in an extremely affluent area of one the major cities in the world, that would have been too hard to resist for someone.
The great sadness is, the one man who dearly loved Chelsea and invested heavily in at a time when there was no success, never got to see it when it happened. Matthew Harding invested £23.5m in Chelsea back in 1993. He died in a helicopter crash returning from a game at Bolton in October 1996.
Matthew Harding would have been a fantastic owner of Chelsea Football Club, he was a genuine supporter. As Abramovich`s millions take Chelsea forward and bring with it the possibility of a new super-stadium, we have to hope that the massive investment, wherever it comes from, is not the downfall of the club.
Matthew Harding`s investment went into the stand that now bears his name, it`s a part of his legacy and long may he be remembered. It has to be hoped that part of the new build will retain some form of recognition for what Harding was vying to achieve. Personally, I believe it will.
Something our Russian owner is aware of is the history of the club. Yes, we do actually have a history. He`s welcomed ex-players back to the club, he`s never tried to stop them coming like some clubs have or for that matter as Bates did in his time. He`s respected Chelsea`s past and I expect him to respect its future and I, in turn respect Roman Abramovich for that, I just wish he`d say a bit more.
Incidentally, should any of Mr. Abramovich`s people happen upon this article, here at Vital Chelsea we`d happily conduct such an interview.
That`s a bit tongue-in-cheek of course, but it does raise a good point, if you had one question for Roman what would it be? Personally, I`d just like to know why he doesn`t allow his managers to have more control over the clubs transfer policy. Any thoughts welcome in the comments box below.
Where does the trouble lie at Chelsea Pt. 5
Part 1 here