Roman Abramovich must be the ideal man in terms of football club ownership. For a start, he’s got the money, nice, but more importantly, he cares about Chelsea Football Club. He’s an actual supporter. He’s at the games, willing the team on.
Abramovich bought the club from previous saviour Ken Bates in June 2003, for £140 million.
Football clubs being bought and sold for mega-money at this time was relatively unusual. The game of football was never regarded as a cash-cow. Even with the money that pay-per-view TV brought in, clubs struggled to make a profit. Abramovich invested regardless and I’ve got to say what a good idea that was.
From a fans perspective, new ownership meant uncertainty. We’ve seen many examples recently of clubs failing because of miss-management off the pitch. At Chelsea that was quickly addressed, not long after Abramovich’s arrival, plans were drawn up for the Cobham Training Complex that the team currently use.
Players joining in shortly after included Damien Duff, Hernan Crespo, Joe Cole and probably best of all Claude Makelele. Exciting times were coming to Stamford Bridge.
It’s not always been a smooth ride though. During his 14-year tenure, there have been times when some of the decisions that have been made in the boardroom have left fans scratching their heads. Quite often, Chelsea’s public relations department appears to have shut down. Managers, coaches, and doctors have come and gone, changes have occurred in mid-season. Abramovich is not a man afraid to make a decision when he feels he has to.
Through all these shenanigans and chaos, there is a constant. Step inside Chelsea’s club museum and you’ll see it before your eyes. Trophies, an endless procession of trophies.
Since Abramovich arrived at Chelsea, it would be too easy to say that the oligarch’s billions were solely responsible for the successes at the club in the following years. Many do, but there must be more to it than that, after all, Manchester City have invested even more into their club in recent years with only limited success.
I think it would be fair to say that the Chelsea, as a club, have developed, what can only be described as a winning mentality. It’s an attitude that runs throughout the whole of the club’s set-up. and it, absolutely, makes no difference what goes on behind the scenes. The team on the pitch keep winning and supporters of other teams hate it.
It could all have been different though, had Jesper Gronkaer was not to score the goal that defeated Liverpool at the end of the 2002-2003 season and secured fourth spot in the Premier League and as a consequence Champions League football for the following season, Abramovich may well have taken his Rubles elsewhere.