This whole debate over whether we should sell back our Chelsea Pitch Owners Shares has caused a few flashbacks for supporters, along with inevitable thoughts about that grey haired legend, Ken Bates. I wasn’t going to use the word ‘legend’ as it seems wrong. After all, we use it for people like Peter Osgood, DennisWise and the living legend that is John Terry. But like or not, master Bates is etched into our history with a deep dark cleft.
It was during the 83-84 season that Bates became iconic at Stamford Bridge. Remember standing in the shed while Ken Bates paraded before us ? I came out of Upton Park that season celebrating our victory, to find Bates waiting in his coach, serenading the Chelsea fans. We were so happy … a team rocking to promotion and an owner that understood how, we the fans felt. Chelsea were back.
Except that we’d lost Stamford Bridge. Sold out from underneath us by those bastards, David Mears and Lord Chelsea. But after years of battling (with a little help from the property crash of the early 90’s) Bates bought our freehold back. His idea to protect it forever, by selling Chelsea Pitch Owners shares was inspired.
But what’s the saying ? … ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Bates promised us that if Chelsea FC were successful in the future, the members who had supported the club when we were shite would never be forgotten. So when we finally made it to the FA cup final in 1994 we were all guaranteed a ticket. Thousands of us queued from 6 pm the night before the tickets went on sales. The queue snaked around the entire ground and down the Fulham road and it took 14 hours to collect my ticket. But Bates decided that if you had £500 you could buy a ticket with no affiliation whatsoever to Chelsea FC. When he arrived at 8 am in the back of his chauffeur driven car, he had to drive down the edge of the queue near the east stand. Incensed fans screamed at him as he went past, window open, telling us to fcuk off.
Fans groups also protested at the development of Stamford Bridge. Many felt that it was short term thinking to build such a small Shed end and hem it in with hotels and apartments. This is a problem that has come back to haunt us … without all those buildings, we’d be able to increase our capacity quite easily and stay at Stamford Bridge.
Now we’re being asked to trust the current people responsible for our club by giving back our pitch owners shares. I trusted Ken Bates in 1984 … a decade later I hated the man. Although you do have to give him credit for making Leeds fans so unhappy … maybe just for that he’s worthy of being called ‘legend’?
The only long term trustees of Chelsea FC are its fans, which is why it’s vital we vote no at the AGM on 27th Oct.