Monday 2 May
Fulham had a party, a 7-0 over Luton Town party, to confirm their title with a round of fixtures yet to come.
Tuesday 3 May
Rumours around the sale of Chelsea are frequent and often fallacious but we are hearing that a snag might be that Roman Abramovich has asked for the £1.5bn loans he made to the club be repaid.
The government said from the start that Roman shouldn’t receive any of the money… but legally they are in a fix because they are only allowed to freeze assets not seize them.
Drew Spence is leaving at the end of the season. Drew has been at Chelsea since graduating from our academy. She has 50 goals for the club and has won everything in the game.
Liverpool beat Villarreal 2-3 to progress to the Champions League final, but nobody was watching as Bournemouth defeated Nottingham Forest to confirm automatic promotion. Forest will have to sweat through the play-offs.
Wednesday 4 May
Fulham U18 1:2 Chelsea U18
The U19 league cup final, no we hadn’t either, is the first trophy won by the U18s in four years.
It started well as Leo Castledine curled in a great opener, on the run and from distance it was a goal worthy of a cup final. Jimi Tauriainen smacked another long shot off the post before Jude Soonsup-Bell finished smartly from a smart pass from the influential Charlie Webster.
Trophies really have a positive effect on the whole age group and some of the performances tonight caught the eye.
The Ratcliff bid for Chelsea has been rejected ‘out of hand’ by those considering the sale. Given that he missed the deadline for bids by four weeks it is hardly a surprise. After meeting with Chelsea fans to discuss his bid and reassure of his sincerity, you have to wonder why he didn’t put his bid forward before the cut off.
Diego Maradona’s shirt from the hand of god game in 1986 sold for £7.1m. A mystery bidder paid a record sum for the blue number 10 shirt worn on the 22nd of June 1986. The rest of the England squad that day were too angry, they had just been cheated out of a World Cup semi-final, but Steve Hodge saw Maradona in the tunnel after the game and swapped shirts. Just think, somewhere in the great man’s collection is a match-worn Steve Hodge shirt worth £s.
Thursday 5 May
Roman Abramovich posted a grumpy reply to recent media speculation that he’d asked for his loans to the club repaid. His stance has not changed and he has not asked for any money from the sale.
In asking bidders to find more money he was looking for a greater commitment to investing the teams and stadium not personal profit.
He added that the process was governed by UK and EU sanctions and that he will not have access or control of the funds raised from the sale. The statement finished by saying that “he remains committed to finding a good custodian for Chelsea FC and making sure the proceeds go to good causes.”
Meanwhile, the steel company Evraz, formerly part owned by Roman Abramovich, has been sanctioned. For those paying close attention; the allegation originally raised against Roman was that he was being sanctioned because of Evraz “potentially supplying steel to the Russian military which may have been used in the production of tanks”. This allegation appears to have disappeared. Instead Evraz are being sanctioned because they supply infrastructure of use to the Russian military. Evraz supply train wheels and rail tracks – the Russians move their troops by rail. Our mum used to have a Lada but this flagrant aid to the Soviet state has so far been ignored by EU and British sanctions.
Saturday 7 May
Chelsea 2:2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
We must hold some sort of record for throwing away leads in the last minute. So much so that referees appear keen to add as much time as our opponents need. Seven minutes on the end today.
Romelu Lukaku must be cursing his luck as his brace were not enough for all the points.
Only 32,000 got in to see this one. One of those was Tod Boehly who watched his first Chelsea games with Bruce Buck. Given that we have new owners the logic of keeping the fans out has disappeared. Perhaps we will be allowed to buy tickets for the remaining home draws.
Southampton U18 5:2 Chelsea U18
Silko Thomas and Leo Castledine added a late slant to an awful result but the U18s have had a positive season and there are promising signs of progress.
The Todd Boehly group’s bid has officially been accepted. The £4.25bn price makes us the most expensive sporting club in history. The group that includes Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss has to be accepted by the FA and the government before they officially own the club. Sanctions should be lifted immediately but this government isn’t likely to move.
The group have committed to retaining a majority shareholding for a decade and have committed £1.75bn to invest in teams and building projects.
Given the concerns about venture capital raised by the Ratcliffe offer and hoping to reassure fans that they are not another Glazer family, the bidders have agreed not to pay themselves dividends or management fees and there is a limit on the level of debt that can be loaded on the club.
Sunday 8 May
Chelsea 4:2 Manchester United
Sam Kerr said she would score a banger and she actually scored two. Needing to match Arsenal’s result to win the league, again, we dangled enough hope in front of Arsenal to make the final result really painful. We played a very nervous first half and trailed 1-2 at the break. With the Gunners drawing with West Ham they would be champions. Erin Cuthbert’s strike was our only real first-half chance.
The half-time team talk must have been a good one. Hardly a minute of the second half elapsed before Sam volleyed in her first. A great team move saw Guro Reiten finish, to give us the lead for the first time. Before Sam thrashed in our fourth, chested the ball down and volleyed on the turn… world class.
Celebrations were a little muted by the need to concentrate on next week’s cup final but champions of England for the third season in a row. Emma Hayes and her squad have done us proud.
Arsenal, for their part scored two in the second half to beat West Ham which was the job in front of them. They have kept us honest in the run in by winning every game and the resurgence of Manchester City and ambition of Manchester United and Spurs, who finished fifth, means the next few seasons will be more competitive. But Emma Hayes will probably find a way.
Chelsea U23 2:1 Tottenham Hotspur U23
By the skin of our teeth the development squad managed to cling to top flight football for next season. Dion Rankin and Joe Haigh scored the, really late, goals that secured our PL2 position. We fell behind just before the hour and it was a tense afternoon and the winner came when the Spurs goalkeeper fumbled the ball into Joe’s path…
It has been a very difficult season for the academy. In order to afford a £97m striker we sold or allowed to leave 12 of our brightest prospects, among them Tino Livramento, Lewis Bate, Myles Peart-Harris, Dynel Simeu, Marcel Lewis, Pierre Ekwah and Tino Anjorin
With 22 out on loan as well the academy has been promoting from within and using players from younger age groups. This has always been the case but without a core of experience results have suffered.
Monday 9 May
Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland are the behemoths trying to get out of League One and Sunderland squeaked through to play Wycombe Wanderers in the play off final. Wednesday equalised the tie on aggregate with ten minutes left to play but Sunderland’s Patrick Roberts scored in injury time to book the Rokerites a trip to Wembley.
Tuesday 10 May
Thomas Tuchel admitted that the sanctions farrago had adversely affected the squad. Speaking ahead of our trip to Leeds Tuchel said “We are the only club at the moment who suffers like this, and maybe the first club ever to do so … It is a unique and challenging situation, and of course everybody hopes it will be clarified.” He explained that the situation had an effect over time “There is no hiding from the fact it is a distraction, and it is a question of which level can we still live up to, even if we are distracted or worried. We did excellently until the national break. It had no effect in terms of results, almost the opposite. We felt very strong during the announcement of the sanctions.
“Then something very human and normal took place. When the players were not here (during the international break) there were different influences to them, maybe more thoughts about the situation in general, and now the situation is very long.
“The players want to feel competitive … They want to know what is going on next season. A player like Toni decided to then change the club. With every day it gets more difficult. It’s not impossible, but it’s more difficult. It has an influence, and still we are looking to reach the level where we are competitive and still win games. It’s no excuse but it is a reason.”
Liverpool beat Aston Villa to keep up the pressure on City… well, Gerrard’s Villa were never going to stand in Liverpool’s way were they?
Wednesday 11 May
Leeds United 0:3 Chelsea
Having done all the difficult work earlier we only need a few points to guarantee Champions League football and getting it done, mostly, at the home of an old rival makes it a little bit sweeter.
Mason Mount blasted in Reece James’ touch after four minutes. Playing against ten for the best part of an hour was sweeter still.
We threatened a dozen but Romelu flashed a shot wide, Pulisic hit the goalkeeper point blank.
The second period was the same Lukaku over when Pulisic was better placed before the little American curled Mason’s touchback into the corner.
Romelu persisted and eventually thundered the ball in with three or four Leeds defenders twisted in a heap by his ankles.
If the front three could get their act together we’ll be a real threat at Wembley on Saturday.
Lewis Bate, let go from Cobham last summer, played a man’s part in the Leeds midfield but they were swamped by blue shirts.
Thursday 12 May
Spurs beat Arsenal in a referee inspired win as the hapless official sent off an Arsenal player when Son Heung-min ran into him after awarding a penalty when Cedric Soares made incidental and accidental contact on Son.
If that is now the standard for fouls in the box we should see five or six penalties a game.
Friday 13 May
Thomas confirmed the rumour that the club have been prevented by sanctions from buying Cup Final tickets for all the youth team players and their parents. Tuchel and the first team stepped in to buy the tickets so the youngsters do not miss out but what kind of sanctions stop young players attending the Cup Final? How does denying the age group teams hamper the Russian war effort in Ukraine?
Luton Town and Huddersfield shared one each as they strive to make the Premier League. They will sort it out on Monday.
Saturday 14 May
FA Cup final tie
Chelsea 0:0 Liverpool
(Liverpool win 6-5 on penalties)
Our recent record in cup finals is a bit worrying. We can be proud of five of the last six finals but to win only one is frustrating.
The day started badly as Liverpool took advantage of Henderson’s deep position to ping ball after ball over our back line.
That initial advantage came to nothing as we started to grow into the match and had the clearer first-half chances. Pulisic and Lukaku both came within a whisker.
The second period saw Marco Alonso hit a post and Liverpool strike the post twice but, as with every game between the two this season, there was little to choose.
Extra-time was inevitable and the first half saw us dominate and threaten before both sides faded. Not quite settling for penalties, more running each other into the ground.
Cesar Azpilicueta missed in the shootout on the day he became the first Chelsea player to play in 13 finals for the club. Mendy’s save was rendered redundant by Mount’s miss but no blame attaches. Mason and Reece James did the academy proud. Jorginho and Kovacic played well in the middle and Lukaku was unlucky that no free-kicks were given for him all afternoon.
This was the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup, in that time there have been 141 finals, we have been in 16 of them, winning 8. The FA Cup started in 1872 and we were not founded until 1905. For a club with no history we have reached at least the semi-finals in 24% of the years we’ve played in the competition.
And we do have a new record of our own: we are the first club to lose three finals in a row.
Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane to carry the advantage to the home leg of their play off.
Sunday 15 May
FA Cup final tie
Chelsea 3:2 Manchester City
If the men had to go home without the trophy the women secured the double. It took extra-time as City never backed down.
We started on the back foot but still took the lead as Sam Kerr headed in Millie Bright’s looping cross. The Australian had already had the ball in the net but for an offside flag to deny her excellent work.
City equalised when Lauren Hemp found a curler when there looked npo danger.
In the second half Erin Cuthbert scored the best goal of her career from outside the box but then just as we expected the final whistle City popped up with another equaliser so Sam Kerr had to supply the fairy-tale finish by running half the length of the field an scoring off a deflection.
If the men set records yesterday the women become the first team the win the FA Cup twice in one season – they won the covid delayed 2020/21 final back in December.
In total then we’ve watched 330 minutes of FA Cup final football this season. Five and half hours of football.
In the fight against relegation Burnley lost to a dodgy penalty at Spurs, Leeds snatched a late draw with Brighton but Everton, who would have been safe with a win were shafted by the referee. Ignoring a clear penalty the referee sent off a defender for an accidental clash of legs. It wasn’t a clear goal-scoring opportunity because it should have been a penalty at the other end. VAR was being controlled by three monkeys who could hear no evil, speak no… etc. Brentford showed no sympathy beating the Toffees 2-3.
Monday 16 May
The government have changed the sale terms. Obsessed with preventing Roman from ‘benefitting’ from the sale they are insisting that we jump through even more hoops before the Boehly group takes over.
It is complex but Chelsea’s owner is Fordstam, which owes £1.6bn to Camberley International. Rumour is that the club want that loan to be repaid and for that money then to be used for victims of the war in Ukraine.
The government want the money to go straight into an escrow account until it can be used for victims of the war in Ukraine.
At heart it appears the government doesn’t want Abramovich to control the terms of the charity that receives the funds despite his proposal to appoint a former UN administrator who has no links to the Russian.
Jake Daniels, Blackpool teenage forward, has come out. He is the first openly gay current professional since Justin Fashanu back 30-years-ago. The PFA, FA and a number of others are really happy, as if they’d actually done much to make the game more open, instead of waiting for someone to be brave enough.
We applaud that bravery and hope more professionals feel safe enough to come out. Football likes to think it has moved on but with homophobic chanting unchanged since Graeme Le Saux and the World Cup in a country where homosexuality is illegal, there is some way to go.
Huddersfield ended the Hatters dreams of Wembley with a late goal in a game Luton could and should have won.
Newcastle thrashed Arsenal 2-0 to leave the way open for Spurts to claim fourth. The result also mean that we are guaranteed Champions League football next season – four-points ahead and Arsenal only have one game left.
Tuesday 17 May
Ben Chilwell made an appearance in training. Far too early for a playing comeback but the England left-back has been out since Juventus in November. Ben has been training with age group teams looking for fitness and stepped back into first-team training following cruciate ligament damage.
Nottingham Forest dragged their supporters through every emotion by losing at home to Sheffield United only to then win the penalty shootout. Their ’keeper even stood still for the second and deflected the ball onto the bar; weirdest save you’ll ever see.
Liverpool beat Southampton, just to mean we’ll have to watch them and City on Sunday instead of the relegation battle.
Wednesday 18 May
Thomas conformed that Andreas Christensen missed the FA Cup with an illness which will keep him out of Leicester tomorrow. Doubts about Mateo Kovacic, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner mean that all of them could miss both Leicester and the weekend.
The day after a footballer here comes out PSG’s Idrissa Gueye reveals that he refused to play in a match rather than wear a shirt with a rainbow symbol. The FFF asked the former Villa and Everton midfielder to explain his absence.
Life got worse for Northampton Town fans. Pipped on goal-difference on the last days of the season as Bristol Rovers overturned a five goal gap, the Cobblers slumped at home to Mansfield to end the season where they started.
The other match in Seville saw Eintracht Frankfurt beat Glasgow Rangers on penalties. The match finished 1-1 and the blue-nosed half of Glasgow were dreaming to silverware until gone midnight when Aaron Ramsey missed from the spot and Germans don’t.
Thursday 19 May
Ten years since we first became champions of Europe.
Chelsea 1:1 Leicester City
Another tired anti-climax that could have been elevated had we taken any of a dozen chances to score. We dominated the second half against a Leicester side already on the beach.
Predictably they opened the scoring with their only chance on target. We have probably set a record for points dropped to sides who scored with their every shot on target. To be fair that was a problem back when frank was still around.
James Madison scored for them, we had to wait until five minutes before the break for Marcos Alonso to finish from a fine angle.
After the match, in which Ziyech and Lukaku both went close to a winner, Thomas Tuchel said that in the absence of N’Golo Kanté for 60% of the season, “so it’s maybe a miracle that we arrived in third place”.
Spurs are three points and 18 behind on goal-difference.
Spurs have a two-point lead over Arsenal and play Norwich City on Sunday. Someone pointed out that it would be the most Spursy act in Spursy history to lose to the Canaries while Arsenal beat Everton.
Frank Lampard enjoyed the best night of his Everton career as the Toffees came from two down to beat Crystal Palace and secure their league status. Burnley and Leeds will contest 17th place. 35 points each but leeds are 20 goals behind so they will have to beat Bretford on the final day and hope Burnley slip up against Newcastle.
Swindon Town contrived to lose a penalty shootout to Port Vale. Vale missed two of their first three kicks but Swindon squandered the advantage to lose 6-5 to the home team. Vale will play Mansfield Town at Wembley next Saturday.
Saturday 21 May
Sunderland rewarded their substantial support by beating Wycombe Wanderers 2-0 at Wembley. The Makems will play in the Championship next season.
Lyon thrashed Barcelona in the Champions League final. The team that sprung four goals on Emma Haye’s women last season found themselves 3-0 heading towards the break and despite the goal back there was nothing the much-heralded Barça side could do.
Sunday 22 May
Chelsea 2:1 Watford
With the relegation, title and fourth place matches happening else where Thomas Tuchel’s side had one more chance to show how we managed to screw up at home, Despite a hat full of chances we let the lead slip only this time had Ross Barkley on hand to win the match.
Kai Havertz scored a beauty in the first half and Ross nodded us back intot he lead with almost the last kick of the season. In between we shipped a goal to already relegated Watford and it is sobering to think that home draws with Leicester, Wolves, Everton, Liverpool, Man United, Burnley as well as slips away at Brighton and Wolves made the difference between challenging and slipping behind the championship race and settling for third.
Given the circumstances of sanctions, the early problems with covid absentees and the insecurity of his squad around contracts it is a small miracle that Tuchel led us to two cup finals and a third-place finish.
Manchester City won the title, Spurs finished fourth, Burnley went down after Leeds beat Brentford.
The summer cannot start until the ownership is sorted out and we’ll probably need three centre-halves. Still if anyone can, Thomas Tuchel can.
Monday 23 May
Christophe Lollichon is leaving the club. The goalkeeping coach has been with us since 2007, initially supporting Petr Cech but working with all the ’keepers and playing his role in all the success we’ve had in that time.
Tuesday 24 May
The Premier League, owners and directors test and all, have signed off on the Boehly deal. The deal now needs official government permission. Given that the Tories have been keen to undermine Chelsea., from the start that isn’t a given.
The sanctions against Chelsea Football Club have been deliberately damaging. There was no need, it doesn’t harm the Russian war effort or Roman Abramovich’s bank balance to prevent us from signing contract extensions or selling tickets.
Nadine Dorries, who is a conduit for god to use, said that we were living on borrowed time, while forgetting to mention that her government artificially limited the time we had by only issuing an operating licence until the end of May.
Government insiders have been trying to undermine the process by suggesting that the Boehly deal was close to collapse. They alleged that it was because Roman was insisting his loans be repaid. The Abramovich side have been contradicting that from the start and have detailed how the charitable foundation should work.
In fact, government ‘insiders’ even slandered Roman by saying he was willing to allow the club to go under rather than agree to government demands.
That is unbelievable. It is extremely offensive for the government to suggest that Roman Abramovich would allow Chelsea to go under after all he has done, all the investment he has made, all the work he has clearly been doing to see that a responsible consortium take over and invest.
The short-sighted and imbecilic behaviour has come from the government. Unwilling to sanction widely enough or sanction individuals who contribute to Tory funds they clearly picked on Chelsea as a high-profile target despite the fact that the football club or its owner have no say in Russian foreign policy. They lied about Roman’s steel company supplying steel to make Russian tanks.
The desire to be seen to be doing something, while still trading Russian oil and gas and while the Chancellor’s wife owned a significant stake in a company operating in Moscow, mean we have lost £120m worth of central defenders and the potentially the spine of the women’s team.
We will have to rebuild from the mess government sanctions have inflicted and it is to the eternal credit of the players, staff, coaches as well as Emma and Thomas that they have worked so hard to keep Chelsea football happening despite everything the government have done.
In other news, valuable court time is squandered prosecuting a footballer for slapping his cat. The courts in the UK are close to collapse as evidence, witnesses and even judges are going missing and yet they found time to bring Kurt Zouma in front of a beak for an offence he has already admitted, paid a fine for and apologised. And they couldn’t get the video equipment to work in the court, so the bench was denied the key evidence.
Wednesday 25 May
Todd Boehly’s consortium are even closer to being our new owners. The government, realising continued prevarication was self-defeating accepted the structure of the deal and, after formal acceptance by the Portuguese and EU authorities we can finally start to rebuild the defence.
The consortium blustered about moneyball analysis and such bollocks but also that they would take Thomas Tuchel’s lead. If anyone deserve the chance to be let loose on the transfer market it is Thomas Tuchel.
Emma Hayes has been voted manager of the season in the Barclays FA WSL awards. She also won the League Manager’s Association award. Sam Kerr won the player of the year award and the goal of the season for her strike against Manchester United on the final day of the season. Sam also won the FWA and London Football awards.
Andy Myers has moved sideways to become loan player technical coach with former AFC Wimbledon boss Mark Robinson leading the development squad.
It was a good night for Tammy Abraham and Jose Mourinho as they bagged the very first Europa Conference League by beating Feyenoord 1-0 in the final. Uefa’s newest trophy is one of the office wastepaper baskets with a Uefa logo but nobody ever accused them of having taste.
Thursday 26 May
Danny Drinkwater has apologised to Chelsea fans for not being at his best after what he described as a ‘business deal gone bad’. He did have some positive things to say about his time at the club but after spending most of his time on loan, or in nightclubs many Chelsea fans struggle to remember his face despite the £35m he cost back in 2017.
Saturday 28 May
The latest news is that the ownership will be finally signed off on Monday morning… just in time. The club statement said: “Chelsea Football Club can confirm that a final and definitive agreement was entered into last night to sell the Club to the Todd Boehly/Clearlake Capital consortium. It is expected that the transaction will be completed on Monday. The Club will update further at that time.”
Roman Abramovic issued his own statement shortly afterwards. In it he said thank you to the fans and explained what a privilege it has been to be a custodian of the club:
It has been nearly three months since I announced my intention to sell Chelsea FC. During this time, the team have worked hard to find the right custodian for Chelsea FC that would be best positioned to successfully lead the Club into its next chapter.
The ownership of this Club comes with great responsibility. Since I came to Chelsea nearly twenty years ago, I have witnessed first-hand what this Club can achieve. My goal has been to ensure that the next owner has a mindset that will enable success for the men’s and women’s team, as well as the will and drive to continue developing other key aspects of the Club, such as the Academy and the vital work of Chelsea Foundation.
I am pleased this search has now come to a successful conclusion. As I hand over Chelsea to its new custodians, I would like to wish them the best of success, both on and off the pitch.
It has been an honour of a lifetime to be a part of this Club – I would like to thank all the Club’s past and current players, staff, and of course fans for these incredible years.
I am proud that as a result of our joint successes, millions of people will now benefit from the new charitable foundation which is being established. This is the legacy which we have created together.
Liverpool lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid. But that wasn’t half of the story. Parisian police nearly caused a crush, fired teargas, fought running battles with local kids and blamed fans for their own incompetence.
Before the kick-off local police herded Liverpool fans into a very narrow walkway that only one fan at a time could enter, the delay meant a huge backlog built up which le plod then let in in a rush, creating a crush… is anyone hearing echoes of Hillsborough? The turnstiles – only two for Liverpool fans – kept being closed the police issued a statement later claiming ‘thousands of fans’ were trying to get in with fake tickets… only Sky journalists on the ground saw no fake tickets.
Given the delay that was building up some people tried to climb over the gates. Reporters on the ground said they were not wearing colours and only a handful were trying to scale the gates. The French police reacted to this manageable situation by firing tear gas and pepper spray.
Kick-off was delayed by more than half an hour and Uefa sent out a disgraceful statement that the delay was due to Liverpool fans arriving late – many had been queueing for more than four hours – and that thousands arrived with fake tickets.
Afterwards Andrew Robertson said he had given a friend a ticket, issued to the player by Liverpool Football Club, only for his friend to be told by French police that it was a fake. Between them the French police and Uefa have cooked up a story blaming Liverpool fans for their own incompetence.
Port Vale and Mansfield fans faced nothing of the kind as they gathered at Wembley for the League Two play-off final. Mansfield were already two down when they had a player sent off and Vale strolled to a 3-0 win.
Sunday 29 May
Nottingham Forest beat Huddersfield Town to regain a Premier League place for the first time in 23 years. Levi Colwill scored the own goal that won it for the Tricky Trees but his season with Huddersfield has been another from a Cobham graduate who made a statement on loan. Huddersfield were unlucky that Jon Moss was waddling through his last match. Unable to keep up with play the incompetent Moss missed two clear penalty appeals and VAR was sleeping it off.
Thomas Tuchel has been talking about the need to be quick and smart ahead of the new season, it is to be hoped Levi will be part of that.
Monday 30 May
Todd Boehly and Clearlake capital are our new owners after all of the administrative hurdles were finally jumped.
Clearlake Capital are going to be a different beast to Roman. They will want a return on their investment . Chelsea will never again see the vision of an owner who understand that investing in the team is the only way to succeed. Don’t forget that Roman bought Chelsea for £147m and sold it for £2.5bn. The best way to make money is to win trophies.
Americanisation is likely. Hopefully they’ll avoid cheerleaders and popcorn but don’t be surprised if our next shirt sponsor make cheeseburgers and we have monster truck racing in the summer.
In an ungracious parting shot UK government spokesperson accused Roman of enabling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They said Chelsea “is now no longer subject to the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich, an individual who has enabled Putin’s brutal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine”.
That statement is astonishing. There has been no evidence put forward that Roman has any influence on Putin at all. The sanctions in the UK are based on one Spanish security service report that said an informant alleged that Abramovich had close links to Putin and the idea that Evraz supplied steel to build tanks. That allegation was dropped in EU sanctions against Evraz as a separate company. In those documents the EU sanctioned the steel firm for supplying steel to make train wheels … and we all know that the Russian army couldn’t invade Ukraine without their train wheels.
The government have been hopping around trying to get everyone to notice now tough they have been on Abramovich. They have boasted about how they forced the sale, ensured that Abramovich doesn’t receive any of the proceeds and that all the money goes to victims of the war in Ukraine. It would sound like the government was really achieving something if Roman hadn’t announced that he was selling the club before being sanctioned and that all the proceeds would go, not to him but to victims of the war.
We usually pass judgement very quickly on owners, managers, players and rarely keep it to ourselves. Chelsea have come a long way since the old pirate Ken Bates – and we had our differences with Ken. We welcomed Roman and the roubles with relief in 2003 because the club were close to administration and the possibility of being wound up. Few reporters now remember how perilous our position when Abramovich bought Chelsea.
For all the transformation Roman wrought, there have been frustrations. The stadium redevelopment looked Spursy, permanently limiting capacity and corporate rather than fan focused. The churn of managers saw some appointed without clear reason – Avram Grant and Rafael Benitez were both unpopular. Scholari, Villas-Boas , Mourinho (second time round) and Sarri were at best failed experiments. While Mourinho (first time), Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte and Frank Lampard weren’t given enough time.
Little was done to help younger fans and teenagers attend matches while some of the kits have been awful. The badge issue never really got resolved. The present one is better than the Millwall lion that Ken Bates inflicted but it doesn’t have the dignity of the proper lion.
Grumbling about Roman’s oversights seems churlish compared to his achievements – 21 men’s titles in 19 years, and some of the players we’ve watched have been astonishing. The development of the youth team structure and the 13 women’s titles are as important. Roman Abramovich changed football, in that an under achieving team could be elevated to contention, if not domination, and set the scene for Manchester City’s tainted rise and the absurdity of PSG and now Newcastle’s ownership by nation states.
But it also pressed established clubs to overstretch in trying to compete and distorted finances to the extent that the European Super League briefly became a possibility. Since the ESL failed the Champions League has been rearranged to allow in clubs based on historic performance.
We note also that LA Dodgers fans have had problems with Boehly’s ownership, recently with violent security staff. So, we welcome the new owners – cautiously. We will judge them on their actions. Pulling down the hotel and building a huge terrace would be popular. Getting rid of Nike and Three and canning talk of moneyball and giving Thomas and Emma all the money they need… would be good places to start.
Back in the real world and a French minister doubles down on lies about fake tickets. Gerald Darmanin – French interior minister – lied through his teeth about the events in Paris at the Champions League final. He said there was “industrial-scale” ticket fraud by the Liverpool fans and that all the problems were at the ‘British’ end of the ground.
The man reasserted lies the French police and Uefa were quick to spread on Saturday night. Sky Sports was outside the stadium all day. They talked to thousands of Liverpool fans, none of whom mentioned having fake tickets. On the contrary at the Real Madrid turnstiles, where M. Darmanin said there was no trouble, Spanish fans were turned away with fake tickets.
M. Darmanin set a new benchmark of success for the French police in charge of the Hillsborough simulation exercise. He said they had succeeded in not killing anyone: “we had a tactic of law and order, which was in proportion, which avoided any kind of death.” He added that the authorities had avoided ‘drama’. We are not sure if that word translates well from French but engineering a crush of thousands of fans who feared for their safety and teargassing families with children is usually described as dramatic.
He implied that the gas was used to avoid a crush. Which is a disgraceful lie. The teargas was used, as many witnesses have said, when a handful of unidentified locals tried to climb barriers. Apologising for women and children being affected while lying about why it was done is unspeakable.
Kaveh Solhekol, and we have our differences with Kaveh from time to time, said that it was a lie that 70%, that would be 40,000, of Liverpool fans turned up at the stadium without a ticket. He said fake tickets were certainly not on the scale alleged and that fans were subjected to teargas and pepper spray indiscriminately.
Tuesday 31 May
Romelu Lukaku is angling for a return to Inter. The Milan club don’t have enough money to buy him, so loans are being discussed.
We have long talked about the curse of the record transfer. After David Hay was tempted from Celtic for a club record £225,000 player after player has arrived with a big reputation and many have looked like poor value. Number two is Robert Fleck – £2.1m from Norwich, Pierluigi Casiraghi – £5.4m Lazio, Chris Sutton – £10m Blackburn Rovers, Andriy Shevchenko – £30m AC Milan, Fernando Torres – £50m Liverpool, Alvaro Morata – £58m Real Madrid, Kepa Arrizabalaga – £71m Athletic Bilbao and number ten is Romelu Lukaku. The picture is not straightforward, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba were both record signings in their day. Many of the above had injury problems, illness or weren’t as bad as the media likes to make out but the underlying trend is not good.
Wednesday 1 June
Billy Gilmour played as Ukraine knocked the Scots out of the World Cup. International sympathy might be firmly with the Blue and Yellow but Scotland wanted the place too. Billy was overrun in midfield for most of the match as Steve Clarke opted to play with two strikers. Ukraine looked the better side throughout and worth their 3-1.
New ownership means new contracts and Jess Carter and Maren Mjelde both had their deals extended until 2023. Hopefully it stops the drip, drip of players leaving.
Thursday 2 June
Antonio Rüdiger is a Real Madrid player. The move has been telegraphed for weeks but it still smarts to lose a talent that will cost more than £50m to replace.
Captain America, Christian Pulisic, set up a goal as the USA beat Morocco. Snatched a high ball onto his instep and laid the ball off. It was a class move. Thiago Silva isn’t resting his weary old bones this summer, playing the whole match as Brazil beat South Korea in Seoul.
Friday 3 June
Romelu Lukaku limped out as the Netherlands beat Belgium. Batshuayi scored but at 4-1 it was a poor night for the Red devils. Kanté curled an effort off the post as France lost to the Danes 1-2 in Paris.
Saturday 4 June
England slumped to a pathetic defeat in Hungary. Mason Mount created one decent chance for lumbering Tottenham striker Kane to fire wide. It was a complacent and mediocre display. Asking pros to play all summer after a long league campaign is draining their energy and you could forgive England’s players for walking away from meaningless games like this. Tell them you have a tight hamstring and spend the summer on the beach.
The game was played in front of thousands of school kids because of the levels of racism the Hungarian fans showed last time England played. The children promptly booed when England players took the knee. It seems there is no saving the soul of Orban’s semi-fascist shit hole. The three Uefa monkeys saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil and, as usual, refused to take any action.
Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were on duty for Germany in a 1-1 with Itlay. Jorginho and Emerson were released from international duty and will take no part in the Italy games this summer.
Wales did the dirty and knocked Ukraine out of the World Cup. It means the principality will play England in Qatar in what will be their first finals since 1958. Ethan Ampadu was at the heart of the Wales defence and surely now has a place in the Chelsea squad.
Grimsby are also celebrating a return to league football after beating Solihull Moors in the National League play-off. The Mariners are back after just one season in non-league but Solihull, only a dozen years old were close.