Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board “deeply regret” their decision to join the European Super League.
Chelsea issued a lengthy statement, on behalf of the “Owner and Board”, laying bare their reasoning for joining the short-lived project. The Blues have admitted their error in joining the Super League on Sunday, only to withdraw on Tuesday night following extended supporter protests.
“The owner and board understand that involving the club in such a proposal was a decision we should not have taken,” the statement read. “It is a decision we deeply regret.”
Chelsea insist they reluctantly joined the breakaway Super League project in order to keep the Stamford Bridge club among the world’s elite, but pulled back having heard the depth of fan unrest.
Blues supporters flocked to Stamford Bridge ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League clash with Brighton, protesting against the Super League. Petr Cech, now the club’s technical director, spoke to fans directly on Fulham Road, while scores of police contained the protests. But then, before the delayed kick-off, Chelsea had signalled their intent to quit the controversial competition.
“We have taken time since withdrawing from the ESL to speak directly to various supporter groups and listen to their views and concerns,” read the Chelsea statement. “Our ambition with Chelsea Football Club has always been to make it the best club in the world, both on the pitch and in how we work with, and give back to the community off it.”
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust had called for resignations from the club’s board in light of the Super League fiasco.
Chelsea also moved to reiterate some of the strong work carried out away from sport by the club as they attempted to rebuild bridges with supporters. “Another important factor in the decision to withdraw was the potential damage to the club’s reputation and work on good causes,” continued the statement.
“So much effort has gone into community work off the pitch over the last 17 years, and there was a risk that all of the club’s efforts directed by the owner on fighting racism, antisemitism, homophobia and other discriminatory behaviours would be lost. We could not afford to jeopardise the significant advances we have made in these areas, nor the vital and ongoing work of the Chelsea Foundation in other areas of our communities.
“Mistakes are unavoidable, but it’s the ability to address those mistakes and jointly move forward which makes us strong as a club and community.”
Lamenting abuse received by club officials, Chelsea pledged to work more closely with supporters in future.
“The club always tries to be open and transparent with its supporters, and we remain committed to this in the future and will take actions to rebuild the trust of the supporters that we have enjoyed to this point,” read the statement. “The club does ask, however, that this dialogue is conducted in a respectful way. The abuse which some club representatives have been the target of over the past few days is not acceptable.”