Before I talk about the impact of the current crisis on Chelsea Football Club and their loyal supporters I would like to spare a thought to the Ukrainian nation and the appalling situation they are facing brought on by murderous actions of Putin.
The unprovoked attack on your nation is unacceptable, however your resilience and desire to live in a free world will triumph and you will rebuild. The world stands side by side by Ukraine and Putin's day of judgement will come.
The consequences are being felt far and wide and in today's opinion piece I would like to focus on the impact of sanctions on Chelsea owner Abramovich and how it is affecting the club and it's loyal supporters.
Unfair On The Fans
Believe it or not, Chelsea Football Club existed before Roman Abramovich. In fact, hundreds of thousands of fans in the UK ploughed their life into the club before the Russian oligarch’s dirty money even arrived. So why should a whole fanbase be punished for one man’s relationship with the murdering psychopath Vladimir Putin?
There’s absolutely no question that Abramovich, who’s allegedly providing steel for Russian tanks for their invasion of Ukraine, should be punished by the UK government as Russia inflict terror on their neighbouring country.
There’s equally no denying that Chelsea fans have benefited from the billions of pounds poured into SW6. Nineteen trophies in under two decades testifies to that.
But Chelsea fans didn’t choose Abramovich as their owner, they won the lottery without buying a ticket.
Recent jibes and sneers from rivals make out Chelsea fans have always had it easy.
Ken Bates Era
But long before the riches Abramovich invested, the club nearly collapsed.
Relegation-threatened to the third tier loomed large before Ken Bates bought it and all its debts for £1 in 1982.
They were forced to cash in on their best players, but Bates managed to avert the club from going under and gradually got the team moving in the right direction.
The Bates era was successful at first but towards the end of his reign, Chelsea were once again teetering on the edge of the financial abyss.
He had overseen refurbishments to Stamford Bridge, trophies and impressive finishes in the Premier League, mounting debts nearing £80m meant a top four finish, which they secured on the final day of the 2002/03 season, was crucial to the club's survival before white knight Abramovich swept in a new era of unprecedented riches.
Many forget that Chelsea were also a considerably likable club before Abramovich.
Glen Hoddle’s side of the 90s was chock full of exciting players like Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli, before one of the Premier League’s best ever lit up the division in Gianfranco Zola.
Impact Of Sanctions
Rival fans and the media are revelling in a decision made by the government, which has the potential to ruin lives at Stamford Bridge.
As it stands, with Chelsea unable to receive revenue or even spend on the club’s company card, hundreds of staff in and around Stamford Bridge and Cobham will be made redundant for the actions of one man.
How is that fair?
Last week, Jamie Carragher defended those sneering at Chelsea by claiming they have been ’taking advantage’ of rival Premier League sides ever since Abramovich set foot in the door.
The Liverpool legend suggested the Blues' academy's achievements came from poaching ‘the best players from every club within the country’.
“They win the youth cup every year Chelsea, or they get in the final, not because they’ve got the best coaches or the best coaches or the best academy,” he said.
“Because they’ve gone and taken the best players from every club within the country and relocated the family and given the dad a scouting job.”
He also said Chelsea have used their wealth to destabilize others - like when they tried to sign his former teammate Steven Gerrard.
The thing is, Carra, it’s a transfer window. Rich clubs have been poaching players from less financially stable clubs ever since its inception.
Liverpool have hardly been angels, either.
Just look at what they’ve done with Southampton. Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, and Nathaniel Clyne all made the switch from the South Coast to Anfield for a combined fee of around £150m.
Carragher rightly faced an instant backlash from Chelsea fans for his comments.
The media and rival fans can sneer all they like at Chelsea’s current predicament, but in truth, the Stamford Bridge faithful will almost certainly have the last laugh.
The club will be snapped up by another billionaire, who will probably invest in the already star-studded squad that Chelsea currently have and also rebuild their stadium to make it an even bigger powerhouse.
After all, there’s reports a Saudi Media Group - estimated to have a net worth of double Abramovich’s - have made a £2.7bn bid for the club.
Football, however, will always remain a sport that likes to forget all too easily.
This is not the first time Chelsea have been in turmoil, but new owners with a solid background is perhaps the best time to start afresh.
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