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Chelsea fans warn club they face ‘irreversible toxicity’ from supporters

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Mar 2024

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Chelsea stand on the brink of an “irreversible toxicity” from the fanbase over concerns for the direction of the club, according to the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust.

Despite progress in the cups, Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino has overseen an underwhelming Premier League campaign since arriving at Stamford Bridge last summer.

Chelsea were branded “blue billion-pound bottle jobs” by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville late on during their 1-0 extra-time defeat against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final last month.

Although Pochettino has since guided Chelsea back to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final with holders Manchester City in April, questions remain over the long-term vision under co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali in the post-Roman Abramovich era.

The CST wrote to Boehly and Eghbali earlier this month, highlighting how the current lack of engagement or communication by the club has led to an “overwhelming sense of helplessness, frustration and deep concern” among fans.

This, the CST said, had left Chelsea “close to, if not already experiencing, a significant shift in supporter opinion that could result in irreversible toxicity, almost irrespective of results on the pitch”.

During the recent 2-2 draw against Brentford at Stamford Bridge, the CST noted several “anti-ownership chants” could be heard, adding recent dialogue with supporters revealed “a widespread and significant lack of belief in the decision-makers at the top of our club”.

The rising cost of ticket prices, coach travel as well as food and drink in general admission areas was also addressed in the wide-ranging letter from the CST, which called for a “supporter communication strategy” that works for both the club and fans.

In a response from chief executive Chris Jurasek, Chelsea said the club deeply valued “the dedication, commitment and desire from all our supporters” and “strives to be the most successful and admired” in the world – both on and off the pitch.

It added the club was committed to “clear lines of communication and a significant level of transparency”, pointing to the established of the Fan Advisory Board, as well as recognising the concern over rising costs on a matchday.

Jurasek added: “We endeavour to have regular and strong communication with all our supporters, across all our teams, and aim to enhance and improve this connection season-on-season.”

Commenting on Jurasek’s letter, CST chairman Mark Meehan said it “doesn’t really address the issue we raised”.

Meehan added: “There are serious supporter concerns about the direction of the club, and particularly the disconnection felt towards the club ownership, board as well as the majority of the team and the manager.

“We were not questioning the existing supporter engagement mechanisms at Chelsea, including our very open and honest relationships with key individuals such as (director) Danny Finkelstein.

“We were saying that in order to reassure and reset relationships with fans, a much wider form of communication with fans is necessary.”

Meehan’s statement concluded: “A football club belongs to its supporters and the CST will continue to do everything in its power to guarantee that the voices of those supporters are heard from the stands to the boardroom and ensure that Chelsea supporters are at the very centre of every key decision made by the club – we are supporters, not customers.”

Chelsea have been contacted for further comment.

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