When Chelsea’s Jesper Gronkjaer scored the winning goal against Liverpool on the final day of the 2002/2003 season, not many could have imagined the chain of events it triggered. That goal secured 4th place and Champions League qualification for the club, in what was then labelled the ‘£20 million match.’
Indeed, had Chelsea not beaten Liverpool their long term existence was under serious threat due to growing financial problems. Champions League qualification was certainly going to help, however it equally was not going to fully solve the financial mire the club was in.
Step forward Roman Abramovich, 53 days after Chelsea’s vital last day victory the Russian billionaire bought the football club from long time owner Ken Bates. Not much was known about the Russian but early on it became clear that Abramovich had not invested in the club with any intention of making a profit, he claimed it would be all be about having fun and winning trophies. Surely music to the ears of any football fan.
Since then the relationship between Abramovich and the fans has been a harmonious one. Fans will always worry about an owner they know little about, however just from watching the Russian at Chelsea games, it is clear how much he cares about the clubs results.
In many ways, he is no different to the 40 odd thousand in Stamford Bridge every other week, yet there is one significant difference. Money. Abramovich has invested an estimated three quarters of a billion into the SW6 outfit and as such it is no surprise that he also cares about the bottom line.
After everything he has put into the club in the last 8 years, can Abramovich feel disappointed at last week’s Chelsea Pitch Owner’s (CPO) meeting, where shareholders voted against the clubs proposal to consider a move away from Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea fans will be forever grateful to Abramovich for providing the platform for the club to go from both perennial contenders to league champions as well as transforming the club into a serious European heavyweight.
However, regardless of the legal documents ascribing Abramovich as the owner, it is the Chelsea fans who will forever feel an affiliation bordering on ownership with the club, the ground and the players.
In terms of business sense, with one taking a step back and looking at the entire situation from a logical point of view, it is clear that a yes vote at the CPO meeting would have been the correct one. Yet, while Abramovich may be a fan, try telling thousands of other Chelsea fans that matchdays away from Stamford Bridge are the best thing for the club. Financially it may be, yet every fan will have those special reasons why it is not.
This is where football fans and businessmen could not be more different, the financial and emotional side of things may be fairly balanced for the businessman. Yet for the football fan, however hard they try, emotion tends to rule.
Many other clubs have moved grounds with fans growing to love their new surroundings, it is often just a process that takes time, as it looks like it will in Chelsea’s case. Abramovich will most likely get his way, but for now he cannot be too disappointed, he must merely accept that the very nature of the football fan is not to let go of what they know without a fight.
Following his significant financial investment, does Roman Abramovich have the right to be disappointed at the no vote at last weeks CPO meeting? Comment and follow me on Twitter @CamHumphries
FREE football app that pays you CASH