There have been many thoughts on Chelsea’s transfer ban, one of the direct consequences of FIFA’s latest moral crusade to clean up the game, one English side after another, and from most Chelsea fans it’s been another excuse to direct venom at a governing body, any governing body, just because we can.
But conspiracy or no conspiracy, and admittedly with the barest facts available, maybe it’s time to hold our hands up and say that we probably deserved this one. If not for Gael Kakuta’s signing, then for the protracted and downright dodgy pursuit of Ashley Cole. Or that of the ‘Leeds United Three’, Michael Woods, Tom Taiwo, and Daniel Rose – who wasn’t tempted by the supposed underhand approaches from Chelsea. Or that of John Obi Mikel, not the cleanest of transfers by any stretch of the imagination. Or the supposed meetings with Sven Goran Eriksson while we were still under the stewardship of Claudio Ranieri, and the Swede was still managing England. Or the alleged Rio Ferdinand meeting. Or the ones which we, the naïve fandom, don’t even know about.
Whether or not we are just the first domino to fall as FIFA make a belated attempt to clean up a corrupt game, or just a club which has been made an example of yet again, there is no smoke without fire. We have brought it upon ourselves, or rather the powers that be at Chelsea have brought it upon us, the fans, and dragged our names through the mud by way of association.
I’ve not written this to ‘Chelsea-bash’, but the fact of the matter is that for a while now, things have been going on behind the scenes which have really distracted away from the real stuff, the on-pitch events which we really care about, which leave a sour taste in the mouth.
Of course, there has always been a not-so-quiet resentment of Chief Executive Peter Kenyon from many areas of our fandom, myself included – sometimes vehemently – and he again will find himself on the wrong side of Chelsea’s support, regardless of how much involvement he had in the Kakuta incident or any of the other previous cases which led to repeated warnings and suspended fines and point deductions. The same goes for Frank Arnesen, now a Director of Football at Chelsea but hugely responsible for the youth programme at the club, but often criticised by Chelsea fans for showing very little in the way of product when it comes to youth development. Even Bruce Buck didn’t escape criticism from my Dad. The fact is, those at the top will find themselves vilified, and someone must be held accountable.
It’s not just the transfer sagas either. More recently there has been the persistent and relentless attack on Adrian Mutu, as the club seek €17,173,990 (or thereabouts) from the player following his much-publicised ‘sacking’ after admitting to taking cocaine a few years back. Whether we deserve the money is open to interpretation, but the bullying, intimidating way we have gone about attempting to secure the money presents us in a terrible light.
Of course, FIFA are under pressure to make decisions in a World Cup year which will supposedly stop the rot which is decaying the game from the inside, but it’s time for the club to start doing their bit too or, ultimately, face the consequences.
We won’t be able to sign players for a while, but we can cope with that. The current side’s unity and strength in numbers is exemplary, and has been proven so far this season. The siege mentality amongst the fans will also strengthen as many believe we are victims of a conspiracy.
What we can’t accept is the constant self-induced criticism the club attracts. This transfer ban is not a real surprise, even if it did come out of the blue, so to speak. Something like this has been coming, and it’s a result of mismanagement and reckless operating.
We will survive, but our reputation is again in tatters. And again, it’s us fans who suffer.