By Tony Attwood
Suddenly it seems Chelsea is in total chaos and crisis (according to the media, not according to me that is) because (oh my goodness they have just realised) if Chelsea don’t make it into the Champions League that will reduce their income.
Now of course Chelsea have had this sort of thing before, coming 10th in 2016 and 6th in 2012. So I rather suspect they might know all about the loss of dosh.
Interestingly in that 2016/17 season when they didn’t have any of this Europe stuff to disrupt them, their money still went up (by £32m in fact) – although this was quite a bit less than the £72m that Arsenal’s income went up by. And besides, being out of Europe for a year meant that they then could focus totally on winning the League, which they duly did.
I think in fact they rather fancied getting the double, but we stopped them from doing that, although I don’t suppose they minded because it turned up the FA Cup isn’t a trophy either.
The problem for Chelsea seems not so much to be one about money, but rather about perception. Their owner can push in all the money he wants, as Uefa don’t seem to give a toss about expenditure and its source any more. What’s more since Manchester City are still fighting the Court for Arbitration in Sport over what is now the longest CAS case in the court’s entire history, it is starting to look as if the CAS is having difficulty standing up to the might of an oil rich nation with a chain of clubs encircling the globe.
So Man City looks like the big time player and Chelsea’s aim of counteracting this by being in the top five clubs in Europe from income has been put on hold.
At the heart of that problem is the lack of a new stadium. The final legal obstacles (arguments about natural light to neighbouring properties) were, as I understand it, overcome at the end of January, and the papers have been saying for six months that the fact that the new ground will cost £1bn is just what it will take, and anyway that is the price of the average Russian’s mooring of the yachts on the Thames.
So Chelsea will join Arsenal and Tottenham as being the clubs that have to pay for their grounds, unlike Manchester City and West Ham who were given them, and Chelsea who have a donor. The only difference is all Mr Abramovich has got to do is find somewhere for the club to play in the interim. Following Tottenham’s exploits, Wembley seems the obvious location.
It is in regards to all this that the media is asking if sponsors will find Chelsea worth investing in when there is no Champs League as part of the package.
But where the media gets it all wrong, in my view, is that they are so fixated by short termism that they can’t actually see that sponsors tend to look across the whole term of their sponsorship. Indeed Emirates Airlines seem to be very happy to be with Arsenal, whether they are in the Champs League or not.
Then again the argument is put forth that finding a manager to replace Conte is harder because there will be no Champs League football for Chelsea next season (most likely). But on the other hand most new managers will expect to bring in some of their own players and need a season to get them going. One or even two years outside the Champs League doesn’t matter that much.
But the Guardian did, I think, hit the nail with the statement, “A club who go through two-season managerial cycles may have to sell a long-term project to prospective candidates.” That could be an issue, and in this regard Chelsea is the opposite of Arsenal who seem to be looking at managers in 20 year rather than two year cycles.
But what fascinates me is that for all their spending Chelsea seem to be intent on being a selling club at the same time with Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic moving along.
In effect what we start to find is a club who are supposed to be in flux and having difficulty recruiting, probably in such position at all. It is, once again, all a piece of creative journalism to fit the new mould which is….
- Manchester City are unstoppable and it really doesn’t matter if as in Germany we know who is going to win the League, each July. In fact it makes life easier.
- Manchester United would be good if only their manager was more English
- Liverpool are back to being Liverpool! and everything they do is perfect, and they have won the League time and time again in recent years only the League hasn’t updated its website properly
- Tottenham have in fact won everything because both third and fourth positions are and always have been trophies, and the fact Tottenham have only won the League twice in their entire history is due to a misprint in the fabric of the universe.
So everything is hunky-dory, and it’s a jolly good job that we have the media on hand to explain that to us, stop us thinking about any of the awkward questions like academy closures, huge hikes in season ticket prices, a unique approach to refereeing, CAS, transferring youngsters, historic attendance figures, historic child sexual abuse, the abject refusal of Crewe Alexander even to hold an enquiry into what happened at their club, no English refs at the world cup, and all that sort of stuff that just gets in the way.
Really it is all fine. If only we could see it.