They were on the streets a month ago, venting their anger at the empty Stamford Bridge stadium. Chelsea supporters had reacted en bloc against the European Super League project, of which their club was part. “It was a betrayal”, believes today Jez Walters, passionate supporter, subscriber for twenty-five years. To imagine that his club could participate in a competition without relegation or promotion was at odds with his idea of football. “If that had happened, supporters like me would have left the club, giving up going to the stadium”, he assures.
However, while Chelsea are preparing to face Manchester City in the final of the Champions League, Saturday May 29 in Porto (Portugal), this affair does not seem to have altered the immense respect of the supporters for Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who has owned the club since 2003. “He was extremely positive, making us a force in Europe. In the past, we would not even have dared to dream of such results ”, continue M. Walters.
On the smoking rubble of the USSR
Dave Johnson, who has his plane ticket to Porto and his negative PCR test, is one of some 6,000 club supporters to have secured a ticket to the final (the same number will come from Manchester). He is even more enthusiastic: “I love Abramovich. When we won the FA Cup [FA Cup] in 1997 i thought it was the pinnacle of what i would experience with the club. Since then, we’ve won the Premier League five times, the FA Cup six times, the Champions League once, the Europa League twice. We were really spoiled. “
He who travels everywhere and keeps a fanzine on the club has even met the oligarch on several occasions. After an impromptu meeting in the stadium parking lot (“I was allowed to talk to him but his bodyguard warned me not to make any sudden gestures”), the billionaire had even agreed to pay him a few hundred euros a month in compensation for his volunteer work in the club museum.
Astonishing relation that that of the supporters of Chelsea and the Russian who built his fortune (estimated by Forbes to $ 15.2 billion) on the smoldering rubble of the USSR in the 1990s, from petroleum to aluminum to steel. When he arrived in English football in June 2003, the idea of having a foreign billionaire at the head of a historic club was new.
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