Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and the club’s board “deeply regret” have issued a grovelling and lengthy statement to apologise for their decision to join the European Super League.
There is disharmony in the English game as protesters make their feelings clear on the failed plan. Chelsea, like the rest of their five fellow ESL conspirators, have faced big protests. Indeed, their game against Brighton was delayed by 15 minutes on Tuesday. That’s after fans made their feelings clear on the plan. Indeed, Petr Cech had to act as peacemaker as tensions threatened to boil over.
After 12 clubs, including Chelsea, made their bombshell announcement on Sunday, the plans fell through within 48 hours.
However, the wounds appear to cut deep. As such, Chelsea know they have some work to do to get supporters back onside.
And the club set those wheels in motion with a statement that lays bare their reasoning for joining the short-lived project.
The Blues have admitted their error in joining the Super League on Sunday, only to withdraw on Tuesday night following extended supporter protests.
“The owner and board understand that involving the club in such a proposal was a decision we should not have taken,” the statement read.
“It is a decision we deeply regret.”
Chelsea insist they reluctantly joined the breakaway Super League project in order to keep the Stamford Bridge club among the world’s elite. However, they soon pulled back having heard the depth of fan unrest.
“We have taken time since withdrawing from the ESL to speak directly to various supporter groups and listen to their views and concerns,” read the statement.
“Our ambition with Chelsea Football Club has always been to make it the best club in the world, both on the pitch and in how we work with, and give back to the community off it.”
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust had called for resignations from the club’s board in light of the Super League fiasco. However, the PA news agency understands no one will be leaving the Stamford Bridge set-up.
Chelsea also moved to reiterate some of the strong work carried out away from sport by the club.
“Another important factor in the decision to withdraw was the potential damage to the club’s reputation and work on good causes,” continued the statement.
“So much effort has gone into community work off the pitch over the last 17 years. There was a risk that all of the club’s efforts directed by the owner on fighting racism, antisemitism, homophobia and other discriminatory behaviours would be lost.
“We could not afford to jeopardise the significant advances we have made in these areas. Nor the vital and ongoing work of the Chelsea Foundation in other areas of our communities.
“Mistakes are unavoidable. But it’s the ability to address those mistakes and jointly move forward. This is what makes us strong as a club and community.”
Pledge made to Chelsea fans
Lamenting the abuse received by club officials, Chelsea finally pledged to work more closely with supporters in future.
“The club always tries to be open and transparent with its supporters. We remain committed to this in the future. We will take actions to rebuild the trust of the supporters that we have enjoyed to this point.
“As such, the club renews its commitment to listen to and engage with its supporters far better in future.
“The board will lead consultations with supporter groups and other stakeholders on new mechanisms or structures that develop. We want to safeguard fan representation in the club’s work.
“The club does ask, however, that this dialogue is conducted in a respectful way. The abuse which some club representatives have been the target of over the past few days is not acceptable.”