An Open Letter to Chelsea Supporters Trust
Dear Chelsea Supporters Trust and its Members,
It is indeed a pleasure to see you all support our beloved football club with all the passion which inspires us all who watch the games on TV sets from far off locations.
It remains an unfulfilled dream for many of us to join you at Stamford Bridge and sing Jose Mourinho’s name and ask Arsene Wenger to continue on at Arsenal after every miserable defeat of Arsenal at the hands of Chelsea. In fact, everything that you do, you have no idea how it becomes a trend across the world.
We are a Chelsea supporters group based in India but we believe we speak for the fans across the world that even though you may have stopped using some popular chants at the Bridge, they continue to be used in the bars of small towns where Chelsea fans gather together every weekend and on CL nights to watch the matches together.
We belong to the cult of Chelsea fans that wake up till 3.30 AM on chilly winter nights to catch up on the Champions League action. We’re the guys who fight with the bar owners when we can’t get a screening in because an IPL game is on. We’re the guys who beg & plead anyone who goes to London to get us something – from memorabilia to David Luiz wigs to anything that’s Chelsea – cause it’s difficult to find anything more than a Home Jersey out here. We’re the people who run websites and write articles every second day to attract more and more people to Chelsea and to Football. We build communities. We build faith. We build passion. And we all love Chelsea Football Club.
Therefore, it was appalling to see your statement against the overseas EPL matches. The statement, to be frank, was ignorant at best, downright contemptuous towards foreign fans at worst. We would like to use this platform to counter your ‘number of reasons’ against the introduction of overseas premier league games, a concept that you believe to be ‘fundamentally flawed’.
1. Integrity of the Premier League: You follow it up by the different time zone and climate argument. We wonder if that’s your definition of integrity because you have not bothered defining integrity in your whole statement. Were you trying to point out that the Premier League is English and therefore should only be held in the UK? We’re a club that starts, generally, two English players every game. The last English manager we had was Glenn Hoddle back in 1996. We owe a large part of our success to a foreign owner. In fact, that has been the case with most of the title contenders over the last decade or so. The integrity of the Premier League lies in its global appeal and not in the fact that it is the English Premier League and had it not been for the global fans and the foreign owners premier league clubs would have been working on a budget which helps championship clubs survive.
2. Home Advantage: Who said play only one game? Let’s play two. In fact, let’s play a whole month outside. Acclimatization will also be easier. Considering a few games, every year get rescheduled due to bad weather conditions in December, let the Premier League come to India in December. The weather is brilliant, and it’ll be like the players never left home. But we understand how Boxing Day and New Year games are such an integral part of the English tradition. So how about the first two games of the season, just before the transfer window shuts down? Two games in August in U.S.A. Season is just warming up. The coaches haven’t finalised the best XI… It really won’t take too much away from the English feel of the Premier League.
3. Devaluation of Season Tickets: There were Arsenal fans, not too long ago, complaining about the rise in prices of match tickets. So many of the City fans did not turn-up for their CL match against Roma largely because of the prices of tickets for a group match. Indeed, ticket prices have risen astonishingly. And believe it or not, that remains the revenue model. A very small portion of shirt sales go to the clubs, and increasing ticket prices and expanding stadiums remains one of the easiest ways for clubs to meet the revenue needs. To comply with the FFP, increasing ticket prices will remain the go-to option for the clubs. Holding matches outside of UK will only help keep the ticket prices down.
This also leads to your next reason of increased expenditure for ‘die-hard’ fans. But you should not forget the money spent in traveling to England for international fans to watch a game at Stamford Bridge. We think all English fans should appreciate that being able to go in every weekend for some of the top games in the world is a privilege and maybe it won’t be such a bad idea to share that privilege just a little.
4. Premier League Spectacle: We applauded you for your absolutely awesome support. But just in case you were thinking that Premier League ‘spectacle’ can’t be recreated, this whole idea wouldn’t have been mooted in the first place. The pre-season tours to Asia, US and even Europe are a case in point, There are enough sporting events which are arguably more spectacular than EPL and we believe having some games outside of UK will only add to the spectacle than take away from it.
5. Travel for Players: We’re sure the scheduling of Premier League could take care of that. If the Premier League could rain matches during Christmas and New Year’s, when all other leagues are on a vacation, we believe the Premier League can also schedule games to suit the international audience. You also talk about half fit players taking to the field. We seriously doubt if managers will put the whole season at risk to play an unfit player. That being said, Costa has been played a lot despite not being at his fittest best. Players carry niggles throughout the season and they travel nevertheless.
Reading the statement, we believe your reasons end there. The rest of it is just a little more than hypocrisy and a certain arrogance. But, for the reasons mentioned above, we don’t think the idea of having overseas matches is ‘unwanted’ and ‘ill-thought’. It is more than demeaning to us that you would respond in such a high-handed fashion to this idea for we thought you would have more respect for the global fans of Chelsea Football Club and the Premier League. We hope that through this letter, we will be able to move you to reconsider your stance, for we believe Football is for everyone, and as this world continues to shrink, let Football bring us closer.
Blue blood, as ever
The Editorial Team
Game Has Just Begun (A Chelsea Fan Site)