Monday 5 August
The Checkatrade trophy is no more. The EFL Trophy is going to be known as the Leasing.com Trophy. Perhaps it is time to call bullshit on sponsorship. We will be calling it the Football League Trophy. One day the marketing wonks who run the Football League will realise that their history and tradition are more valuable than sponsorship dollars.
Our first game in the glossy new tournament is tomorrow night against Swindon Town.
Tuesday 6 August
The club have published two reports into past child sex abuse and racism within the club and they make for harrowing reading.
It has been a thorough process, conducted by a brief who is a specialist in child protection and independent of the club, Charles Geekie QC and by the children’s charity Barnardos.
“Although the Club today is a very different place from the Club then, with new ownership, operational structures and safeguarding procedures in place, we will not shy away from responsibility for what happened in the past. The intention of the review was to shine a bright light in the dark corners of the Club’s history so that we can learn lessons to help protect the players of the future. We also have no desire to hide any non-recent abuse we uncover.”
The whole of what was uncovered is shocking and depressing. A predatory paedophile, Eddie Heath, was employed as a youth coach by the club and allowed to prey on vulnerable young boys.
Heath was at the club from 1968 until he was dismissed by Geoff Hurst in 1979. Chelsea had allowed the abuse to continue without adequately responding to complaints from boys for ten years.
Specifically, the report identifies Dario Gradi as failing to pass on to the board allegations and smoothing over a complaint when a boy’s father complained about inappropriate touching.
Dario Gradi was appointed as an assistant coach at Chelsea in 1971 at the age of just 29 with responsibility for the reserve team. He admits meeting the father of one boy who had complained in a letter to the club. The family remember him promising to deal with the matter and have a word with the coach. Gradi is quoted as saying that he thought the allegation related to sexual touching of the boy’s “privates” concluding that he “hadn’t been raped or anything like that” – such was safeguarding in the 1970s.
The report says the abuse carried out by Heath related to 23 boys they knew about and probably many more. The details are not revealed but include sexual assault and rape.
Barnardos were asked to run an investigation into racial abuse by Gwyn Williams in the 1980s and 90s. Williams was with the club between 1979 and 2006. We called him Mr Chelsea on his retirement because we’d never heard what he was like. Williams has denied running a regime of racial abuse and bullying but Barnardos chose to believe the evidence.
The bullying appeared to be widespread and deeply unpleasant but the racism is more astonishing. Williams was found guilty of “humiliating and ridiculing black players by making racially derogatory remarks He made monkey noises and called black players “shoe shine” and “darkie”.
His rather improbable defence was that he was trying to toughen the players up for the abuse they might encounter as professional players.
Gwyn Williams is also named in the child abuse report for being the club official who overlooked safeguarding issues relating to club scouts reported to the club as potential dangers to children and about whom the club did nothing. Significantly one of these warnings came from the police and after the FA introduced child protection policies that the club adopted and Williams was in charge of implementing.
Gwyn Williams ignored clear, authoritative warnings about grooming and paedophilia by members of his staff.
The evidence against Graham Rix wasn’t about racism but bullying and was conflicting.
The club has apologised to all the players involved and has compensated some and offered support to all.
The statement concluded: “In addition to creating a strong and robust safeguarding culture at the Club today, we also want to ensure that all our former players are able to access support when it is needed. It is for this reason that the Club has formalised the services that we have been providing to players into a dedicated Player Support Service. This service will provide holistic support to all former players of the Club and full details are on the Club’s website.”
“Finally, we thank the survivors again for their bravery and dignity and the role they have played, and continue to play, in ensuring a safer future for our sport.”
For once the football club has addressed the problems of its past with dignity and shown determination that it never happens again. At once we feel deeply ashamed of what has happened but quite optimistic about the future.
Swindon Town 2:3 Chelsea U23
A very positive start to whatever the Checkatrade is now called. Tino Anjorin could have had a 15-minute hat-trick but he scuffed his first chance but a healthy early two goal cushion… was squandered by poor marking at a corner and then an early equaliser in the second-half. Charlie Brown strode onto a Billy Gilmour pass to give us the points. What was really important was how our very young squad stayed in the game at 2-2 and hung on at the end to beat an older, more experienced league side.
Montpellier 5:2 Chelsea
A bit of a leg stretcher for the women as they struggled for shape and fitness in the first-half and clawed a little of the deficit back in the second.
Guro Reiten on debut and Maren Mjelde scored our goals.
Wednesday 7 August
Burnley have asked about Danny Drinkwater on loan but the really interesting news is that Arsenal are close to signing David Luiz for about £8m.
Frank clearly doesn’t think that taking over a Champions League side that has lost it star player, is operating under a two-window transfer ban with a reputation for hiring and firing coaches wasn’t enough of a headache he is selling one of his few remaining experienced players. Obviously, he thinks he has enough cover at centre half but losing a wise and experienced head to a rival this close to the season starting seems a bit of a risk.
Ji So-Yun picked up the club biro for a new deal that keeps her with us until 2022. The South Korean is one of the best players in the game and we are increasingly built around her passing and vision.
Thursday 8 August
Bayern München 5:0 Chelsea
Another pre-season pasting for the women. Bayern are a few days away from the start of their season while this is our women’s second pre-season match. They were probably all shell shocked by the big news… leaked yesterday… is that David Luiz has joined the Ashburton Grove retirement home for elderly, former Chelsea players. £8m for the short term strengthening of a rival is a balancing act that can go wrong. We will just have to hope David hits one of those patches of form where he can do no right.
Josh Grant will take the A303 all the way to Plymouth to play with Argyle until January. Plymouth are currently in the up-swing of their usual yo-yo existence so it should be a good few months for Josh’s first loan.
Danny Drinkwater has signed for Burnley for the forthcoming season. The £40m midfielder never really found his place in the Chelsea squad and a loan will help him back to the form he showed in winning the title with Leicester.
Trevoh Chalobah signed a new contract and headed to Huddersfield Town. Trevoh was a leader for Ipswich last term as they struggled and were relegated but the 20-year-old really matured as a defensive midfielder.
Izzy Brown heads to Luton Town also in the Championship. Hi progress has been hampered by injuries in the last two years and he’ll hope for a healthy season and a fair chance.
Jacob Maddox will spend the season at Tranmere Rovers. Jacob spent most of last season in League Two with Cheltenham Town so a season in League One is a step up.
Elsewhere, Romelu Lukaku finally joined up with Antonio Conte as he joined Internazionale for about £72m. Conte had designed Chelsea’s tactics for his second season with us around the big Belgian only for the club to walk away from a deal with Everton allowing Lukaku to join United instead.
Friday 9 August
Liverpool started the season well with a 4-1 win over Norwich. The Canaries could have had a few more but looked to be caught in the headlights and not at the fluent best they showed last season.
Saturday 10 August
Arsenal U18 1:2 Chelsea U18
Armando Broja slotted both goals as we stole the points away at last year’s champions. Dion Rankine had a fine match. Ed Brand will be delighted with an away win in his first match, especially considering how windy it was.
Conor Gallagher scored his first senior goal for Charlton as they beat Stoke City 3-1.
VAR is going to be an on-going joke: they started by chalking off a Man City goal for a fractional offside – if a player looks level you give the benefit of the doubt to the attacker. VAR is only to correct obvious mistakes. A millimetre either way is not an obvious mistake.
City were awarded a penalty against West Ham when Riyad Mahrez threw himself over a defender. It was just the kind of comic dive VAR was supposed to rule out. But VAR is going to back up the referee on the pitch because the corrupt and self-entitled refereeing community always stick up for each other. No matter what.
Elsewhere, Villa scared Spurs to death as they took an early lead and kept them at arms-length for the best part of 70-minutes until Christian Eriksen came on. Spurs had better hope Real Madrid don’t come knocking in the next three weeks.
Oh, and be careful what you tweet inside the stadium this season. Over officious jobsworths at Hull hauled out and questioned a fan who was texting his girlfriend. He was told he was suspected of unauthorised data gathering. Comsec are the new Stasi, operating on behalf of the Football Data Co, who think they have some right to stop you from doing whatever you like with your mobile phone. The fear is that evil ,fake-fans are tweeting match info to shady eastern betting markets… but you can get all you want and need from live feeds and the betting companies anyway. There was no confirmation as to what part of a live public spectacle they think they can control.
The Football Supporters Association and Gary Lineker tweeted their support the fan in question.
Sunday 11 August
Manchester United 4:0 Chelsea
VAR isn’t going to make any difference if referees are allowed to ignore fouls and favour the home side.
Anthony Taylor handed them a penalty in the first-half when Zouma was turned and made incidental contact with the United forward as he fell. The contact wasn’t enough to bring the player down but the ref was quick to award the kick.
In the second-half Tammy Abraham was hauled off his feet on the edge of the United box in exactly the same fashion by Harry Maguire. No free-kick and as we looked stunned by the decision they broke and scored their second.
We looked rattled and for a side that had kept its composure and had not looked threatened suddenly we were three goals down and VAR didn’t even look at the foul on Abraham.
They got their fourth when Zouma was down on the edge of their box with a head injury. Harry Maguire had his hand up to alert the referee to the player down. Anthony Taylor is obliged to stop the game when a player has a head injury, yet he saw a chance for United to break on a team with reduced numbers and allowed play to go on. We are used to referee’s inventing the laws of the game as they go along but this was in direct violation of a law designed to protect players from serious head injury.
VAR did not review.
One incident towards the end of the match showed the referee’s bias more clearly than the rest: Pedro couldn’t reach a dropping ball because he was pushed in the back: no foul, no review, no pretence of anything but home favouritism.
We should bear in mind that this was the youngest starting line-up in a competitive fixture in years and we are in transition. Lampard made the brave choice to start with Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount and the early dominance looked to have rewarded him. Over all it was a positive performance from a slightly scratch side at one of the hardest venues to visit. We hit the woodwork twice in the first period and created the better chances. We still might have lost if the referee had been even-handed but we would have stood a fair chance.
All we can say about United’s performance is that, if that is the best they can do with the referee so firmly on their side, City and Liverpool and going to piss seven or eight goals past them in every match.
Having an unpleasantly smug ex-United player co-commentating just made the experience more unpalatable.
The real highlight of the day was the strong vocal support offered by the Chelsea fans even at four down. This is going to be a very different season to the last.
Wolves earlier had a winner against Leicester ruled out for an accidental handball in the build-up. The new law says that no goal should be scored if the ball hits a hand, whether intentional or not.
Ifab, the International Football Association Board, have been tinkering with the laws of the game to an absurd degree in recent years. They appear to be under the control of a bunch of drunken teenagers who prefer football on PlayStation.
The incompetent frauds at Ifab are ruining football – having changed the kick-off, offside, handball, introduced the idea of an unnatural silhouette (we kid you not) they have now stuck their oar into goal-kicks – no longer need to leave the box before another player touches the ball – and any goal where the ball hits a hand.
How many ruinous changes are we going to put up with? We sent a series of questions to Ifab in the summer break. They reacted very strangely because they said our questions were ‘not constructive’ and therefore rude.