Chelsea’s owner and board of directors have issued an open letter to the club’s fans, following their decision to join the now failed European Super League.
The Blues were one of 12 clubs – six from the Premier League – to state their intention of breaking away from UEFA competition in favour of a closed continental competition last Sunday. It would have led to the clubs involved securing hundreds of millions of pounds of extra money per season, separating them from every club outside of the league in financial terms.
Chelsea were the first club of the 12 – eight have officially gone so far – to move to withdraw from the league after a furious backlash from fans, media and other clubs. Thousands of supporters protested the news outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night and the news of Chelsea’s pending withdrawal came through as it happened.
The club have now attempted to explain their actions in a letter on their website.
“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 joint decision to join the ESL was driven by this same ambition. When it became clear that a new league might be formed, we did not want Chelsea FC to miss out on the opportunity to play in such a potentially prominent league, nor did we want to risk the club falling behind our closest English and European rivals in competitive terms.
“As a club, we are committed to an open and regular dialogue with our fans and other stakeholders, but, on this occasion, regrettably, due to time constraints and confidentiality restraints, this was not achieved.”
Chelsea state they have spoken to supporters and realised their error.
“As concerns were raised following the announcement, the club took a step back to listen and speak to supporters. Following those conversations and taking into account the extremely strong views against the proposal, we reassessed our initial decision and decided we did not want to be part of this league.
“We also recognise the sentiment that had been expressed about whether the ESL relied strongly enough on sporting merit. This is something we had strong concerns about from the start and were confident would have been addressed during a further consultation process with various stakeholders, along with other concepts in the proposal about which we had reservations. We firmly believe that we must protect a structure which allows all clubs, players and supporters to dream of, and achieve, success.
“We recognise we should have addressed these issues in advance of joining the group. The Owner and Board understand that involving the Club in such a proposal was a decision we should not have taken. It is a decision we deeply regret.”
You can read the letter in full on Chelsea’s official website.
On the pitch, the Blues face a potentially decisive trip to West Ham United on Saturday evening, with the top four places in the Premier League suddenly meaning something again.