Many have been quick to shout the old line that politics does not belong in football for far too long. But, as Roman Abramovich’s role as an oligarch of a country currently invading Ukraine leads to the potential end of Chelsea Football Club as we’ve become to know it, perhaps it’s worth reiterating once more that football, such is its large scale, goes hand in hand with politics.
This could just be the start, too. So, whilst Newcastle United fans celebrate eight games unbeaten, whilst laughing at Chelsea’s downfall, their ownership – and the immorality behind it – is unlikely to be forgotten.
In an ideal world, the fall of Roman’s empire will signal a cleanse in English football. Of course, money talks, however, and what is ideal for those watching from behind the scenes is far from it for those sitting above; those with the cash in hand; the hand in the forever questionable honey jar of where that cash comes from.
For the first time, money has not won, it seems. Abramovich, one of the villains in this story – no matter how many times his name is chanted at Stamford Bridge – has lost. Football, for now, has won. Justice has been served. But where does it leave Chelsea?
Chelsea’s Freezing Will Play a Lasting Role in English Football
What it Means for Chelsea
In the space of a few days, Chelsea, the European and World champions, can no longer sell merchandise. They can no longer sell tickets. Only season ticket holders have the key to the Bridge right now. Meanwhile, new contracts can be forgotten, as can new transfers. From financial ecstasy, Chelsea are staring down the barrel of financial ruin, according to Matt Lawton of The Times.
In a year’s time, we could be looking at a club in free fall. As things stand, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta will be departing at the end of their contracts, leaving Thomas Tuchel with just three senior centre-backs: 37-year-old Thiago Silva, Malang Sarr, and Trevoh Chalobah.
When it comes to sponsorships, ThreeUK has already pulled out, with the only two positives so far being Nike’s commitment to their 15-year kit deal – signed in 2016, as well as Hotel Trivago’s commitment to their deal.
According to Adam Crafton of The Athletic, Nike intend to stand by their partnership, which is reportedly worth £60 million per year. Yet, the problem arises, why manufacture a kit that cannot be sold? It is a question that will need answering in the coming weeks, that is for certain.
What This May Lead to
The football world was right to unite against Roman Abramovich. But, what must not be forgotten in this situation is the collateral left behind; the jobs lost and the damage of that; the fans potentially losing their club. It should, however, lead to an overdue conversation in the Premier League about fan ownership.
It sparks reminders from the fallout of the European Super League attempts. That is when football should have acted; that is when a real conversation should have been had about handing fans far more ownership of their club. Once again, however, money comes over morals and we are left with a Russian oligarch finally caught out and a club potentially left in ruins.
It’s all well and good enjoying the money without the questions, but when the questions come and the answers arrive in stuttered, worrisome panic, things can become far from enjoyable, as Chelsea have found out.
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