Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Chelsea: the club that everyone will want to hate

No. 7 is back after an absence of two weeks to rant about Chelsea's arrogance. And no, he does not have an opinion of Blackburn manager Mark Hughes' decision to put promising striker Jonathan Stead on the transfer list... at least one that he wants to share with us.

I must profess that I do not see anything wrong with arrogance. It is a wonderful thing to see the likes of Graeme Souness ask a referee whether he is barracking for the opposition team, or Sir Alex Ferguson complain that his team is persecuted by the referees.

It provides an entertainment value to the beautiful game and it is quite fun combing over the news and opinion articles for displays of arrogance, and especially letters to the editor. No ladies and gentlemen, I do not have anything against arrogance.

What I do have a problem with is when an identity will supersede mere arrogance with numerous displays of rule-breaking that not only seriously undermines the credibility of the whole dynamic of relations in transfer dealings, but also sticks the middle finger up at everybody else involved in the process. Step in Chelsea.

If Chelsea is not the club that everyone loves to hate at the moment, then they soon will be at the rate they are going. Of course, Blues manager Jose Mourinho's low blows are usually quite enough to make any neutral football supporter to get sick in the stomach, but Chelsea's latest dealings in the Frank Arnesen and Ashley Cole sagas is the finishing blow to the head.

The latter Colegate (not to be confused with the brand of toothpaste) saga is the one which has made all the media headlines, and perhaps the most blatant of the two. Before I do discuss this topic, it is important to note that I also think it important to note the evil of agents, but further discussion the role of agents is perhaps for another entry.

What I do want to concentrate on is Chelsea's role in this whole sorry saga, because they approached (tapped-up) a player (Ashley Cole) in January who was under contract at another club (Arsenal) and had more than six months to go on his contract, clearly breaking Rule K3 (which prohibits a club making an approach to a player under contract without obtaining permission of his club), of which they were found guilty last week. The player himself did not have permission to speak with any other club as part of a transfer deal, nor did his contract stipulate any such thing.

This is a spurious act in itself by Chelsea because it transcends the way in which the world of football works. What makes this an even more shameful is that they did so in a hotel restaurant in full view of witnesses from the public--they did not even have the conscience to disguise the meeting that would have appeared strange to onlookers... an obvious and conscious approach by Chelsea and a conscious approach by Cole is not something that happens on a regular basis.

And what was the conclusion of this meeting? Arsenal now have an unsettled player on their books who refuses to sign a new contract with his current club because they refuse to be intimidated by an engineered interest and give in to paying an extra £5000 a week. Chelsea might not have got their man, since it would look absolutely farcical if Cole were to be signed by Chelsea now, but they have unsettled a very important first team player who plays for their English Premier League rivals.

The punishment that Chelsea received was very fitting--a £300,000 fine and a three-point suspended deduction (to be taken away if Rule K3 is broken again)--although I do think that Chelsea should enter the 2005/2006 season on minus three points. Some might argue that the penalty was not harsh enough, that more money and more points should be taken away from the Blues, but that does not hold up with me, because what if a club like Portsmouth were found guilty at a later date? It would seem far too harsh.

Now that I have lowered the temperature for one paragraph, let me add more fire and brimstone to this article again by mentioning Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck. This silly fool had the audacity to accuse Arsenal of having an "agenda" by reporting Chelsea's conduct to the Premier League.

Well, he was right, Arsenal certainly did have an agenda, but why stipulate it as a damning accusation? Most would agree that Arsenal had every right to protect themselves from hostile tapping-up of their players from a rival club.

Furthermore to this, Buck went on to state that Chelsea's view was "that it breaches the rules if you make an approach with the intention of entering into a contract with the player. But we had no intentions of doing that and we made that clear to Arsenal." No Buck, Chelsea did approach an opposition player with the view of signing them (why would your club do otherwise?), and Arsenal were certainly not aware of Chelsea's lack of intention of signing the player, much less the meeting, until after the headlines hit the streets.

And to top all of this ridiculousness off, we are now subjected to the accusations of Tottenham Hotspur sporting director Frank Arnesen being tapped-up by Chelsea, and if they are found guilty of doing so, they face a deduction of three English Premiership points (unless their appeal against the punishment is accepted, in which case they will probably lose no points). What was wrong with going through the right channels to approach Arnesen is anyone's guess.

So what is the moral of this article? We thought that Manchester United was bad, and that they would be the only club that everyone would ever hate, but how very wrong we were.


At Tuesday, June 07, 2005 1:42:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ziege tapped up by Liverpool, £20,000 fine to Liverpool, nothing for Ziege, nothing for Houllier. Ziege then signs for Liverpool. Cole and Chelsea have an illegal meeting but £500,000 in fines and a possible 3 points. In one of these two scenarios the punishment doesn't fit the crime. Which is it?

At Tuesday, June 07, 2005 1:43:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get your facts straight before writing your articles, don't believe everything you read in the gutter press. Perhaps a look into the history of 'tapping up' might give you a rather more rounded view and stop all this Chelsea hating. I am an Arsenal fan in case you think i am an irate Chelsea fan but would rather see a balanced view rather than victimisation.

At Tuesday, June 07, 2005 1:51:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another good blog No7.

In response to the replies so far, i would say that the punishment didn't fit the crime in the first instance - The penalties should be high for this, as it undermines the basic rules. No matter what the history of "tapping up", the practice is wrong, immoral, and needs to be eradicated. The only way to do this fairly is by harsh point deductions, because as you have pointed out, cash fines (in the current state of the football league) would need to be 'means tested' which in itself is unfair.

At Tuesday, June 07, 2005 2:10:00 am, Blogger Ole said...

I take it the author of this poorly-written piece is a Gooner. Arsenal have been spitting fire about a situation which would never have come about had they paid Ashley Cole what they promised him. How pleased Dein must be that Chelsea's gift for bad publicity has overshadowed his own scrimping and saving when it comes to paying his staff what they're worth.

Honestly, I bet Chelsea fans are pissing themselves laughing. Tapping up... something that every single team in the entire world does on a daily basis. And yet here the bureaucrats are, queueing up to boot Chelsea in their well-funded backsides for daring to do it in the open. Christ, isn't it refreshing that the team wander around saying "We want him and him" rather than passing bundles of cash under the table in brown envelopes... Harry Rednapp, Alex Ferguson, and any number of other top league managers, are you listening?

Sadly, it's naive dribble like this "article" that perpetuates the hypocrisy of this ongoing investigation into all things Chelsea.

Oh, and you can't write for toffee, and probably won't be able to no matter how many times you use words like "spurious" or "transcends".

At Tuesday, June 07, 2005 2:19:00 am, Blogger James No. 7 said...

Anonymous No. 1: If I had it my way, they would receive harsher punishments.

Anonymous No. 2: I am well aware that tapping-up is far too common in football, but Chelsea have taken it one step further, and one step too far.

You did not point out what exactly was wrong in my facts either, but I suppose your gripe was that I concentrated on Chelsea and failed to mention other facts (other cases of tapping-up), but I justified the special case of pointing in one direction by putting that in context of Jose Mourinho, who I have written extensively about in the past. (See "The Arrogant One" for example.)

The tapping-up is merely the icing, so to speak. The cake was already there in Mourinho. So despite my unbalanced view (I admit I am unbalanced!), there is much foundation to my... erm... unbalanced view.

Ole: No, I am not of the red and white. And I am not writing for anything (unfortunately for me), much less toffee (thank god that I get no reward, eh?).

Thanks for the comments.

P.S. Some names to the anonymity would be much appreciated!

At Wednesday, June 08, 2005 4:41:00 am, Blogger Flinkers said...

As a Chelsea fan I am disappointed with the way my club has purported itself this past season. No matter how many records the club set nor the dogged way in which CFC moved towards the title is being focussed on because of these avoidable incidents.

However, I do feel the punishments meted out to the club are grossly unfair. I believe we are being taken advantage of purely because of the money available to Mr. Roman Abramovich.

My point is an example, if it is to be so, should be made of the first perpetrator rather than the one who is perceived to be able to afford it. As such, I welcome all parties dismay at the judgements, and sincerely hope all fines are reduced to the precedent already set by Tottenham, Liverpool et al.

I am not so naive as to suggest that the club did no wrong and should not be punished, merely that there is a level playing field for all members of the Premier League.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!

At Monday, June 13, 2005 12:56:00 am, Blogger Football Commentator said...

I think that any club, over time and with success, becomes the club everyone wants to hate. Man U was that club in the 90's.


Post a Comment

<< Home