By Tony Attwood
There is a remarkable piece in the Telegraph today headed Why Chelsea should be relegated from the Premier League by Jim White who is a regular writer for the paper and what is called “an ardent Manchester United supporter.”
OK so he is biased. As am I. As is everyone. But he does ask some interesting questions, such as “why did it take so long for the government to acknowledge officially the Chelsea owner’s links with the murderous tyrant in the Kremlin?”
And a little later, “have the football authorities at last appreciated that allowing the sale of a significant cultural asset to a businessman irredeemably bonded to a despot might not be the brightest of ideas? (Are you watching Newcastle)?”
Plus a little later again he asks about repercussions, adding, “Not just in terms of restrictions on ticket, merchandise and player sales. But on the pitch. After all, fans of Derby County, Reading, Bolton, Portsmouth and the rest have all seen the consequences of dodgy finance played out in point deductions and subsequent relegation scraps. In Scotland, Rangers were obliged to start again at the bottom of the league pyramid as soon as the full range of their monetary mismanagement became apparent. And, for all their interesting political allegiances, as far as we are aware no one at Ibrox was supporting a maternity-hospital-bombing despot.”
And that’s an interesting point that I hadn’t considered. Yes, when there are financial things amiss all sorts of punishments are handed out.
Of course not everyone agrees. One correspondent replied, “What a ridiculous article. Punish a football club because the UK Govt were asleep at the wheel for 20 years? Try and think a bit more rationally, Jim, and not as a tribalistic football fan. I’d have hoped my subscription to a broadsheet would buy access to better quality opinions than this.”
Which I rather like – not the name calling, I always find that boring, but the notion of “better quality opinons”. I am still trying to think that one through.
But let’s move on to another thought. I recently did one of my occasional bits about how Arsenal are doing this year compared to other years after this number of games. See for example, Finishing 4th: How does this season compare with past seasons after 25 games?
So what about Chelsea – how have they been doing this season compared to recent ones?
Certainly, this season after 26 games Chelsea are way ahead of last year, and even further ahead than the year before. In fact, the last time they were in front of where they are this season was in 2017, when they won the league – as can be seen from the column on the right.
Meanwhile, according to German television, the Boeing of Roman Abramovich is currently stuck at Basel-Mulhouse airport, and I suppose that is because Swiss airspace is now closed to Russian aircraft. Indeed it seems a number of planes owned by the oligarchs are stuck there. It seems the Abramovich plane went from London to Basel at the end of February.
As SRF’s research shows, other Russian nationals or companies find themselves in the same situation as Roman Abramovich. A plane belonging to the Lukoil group and a private jet belonging to billionaire Viktor Vekselberg are also grounded. Viktor Vekselberg is also known to have a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But let’s return to the Telegraph article in which this point, which I do think is important to consider, is made. The point is made, why should clubs have points deducted for the sins of their owners?
The answer is, because this is what normally happens. As the Telegraph says, “Bolton fans were not remotely responsible for the reckless behaviour of the club’s previous owner, but they were the ones obliged to watch their team sink down the divisions as a result of what he did. At Derby, the supporters did not spend way beyond their means: that was the previous owner. Yet, because of the concomitant points deduction, they are required to watch their team scrabble to avoid relegation to the third tier, their support tested to its limit. “
The fact is, I don’t like points deductions for the bad behaviour of owners, but that is what is normally done. So the key issue is, why is Chelsea not being treated like everyone else?
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