An open letter to Chelsea supporters fearful of what comes next after Roman Abramovich sanctions – Daniel Childs

I do not even know how to begin this piece. What words can express what is happening in the pit of Chelsea supporters’ stomachs over the past 24 hours?

As highly respected Chelsea voice and author Tim Rolls put it, for whatever fears we have about the future of our club, they pale in insignificance to the atrocities happening right now to the Ukrainian people.

The feeling of conflict over how you are supposed to feel? Are you supposed to feel guilty, happy, relieved, scared? Or do our emotions mean very little in the wider context of what is happening in the world at the moment?

I know I am severely unqualified to answer those questions. All I can do is talk from the perspective I have known since my Dad walked me down Fulham Road for the first time in August 2003 at the age of five to watch a team called Chelsea.

After the UK Government sanctioned Roman Abramovich as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday morning, suddenly, the very existence of one of my great loves in life feels in jeopardy.

As a result of these sanctions, Chelsea can no longer sell any more tickets for games, the club shop has been closed, and it will be unable to buy or sell players on the transfer market.

At the time of writing this piece, phone company Three have just suspended their sponsorship with the club, removing its logo from shirts and from around Stamford Bridge.

Maybe by the time you are reading this, more dominoes have fallen. That is in itself the problem with the past week for supporters.

Too much information to comprehend in such a short space of time. Its seismic impact and what is the correct response to all this if you share a deep emotional connection to Chelsea.

Am I allowed to be fearful over all this? Am I allowed to feel anger, resentment, frustration?

Roman Abramovich has had all of his assets frozen, including Chelsea Football Club on Thursday.
Roman Abramovich has had all of his assets frozen, including Chelsea Football Club on Thursday.

The government said it would issue a special licence that allows fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches. But much of the conclusions from this announcement puts us in complete limbo. Some may argue borrowed time.

I didn’t know what it was at that young age when I took my first steps into the Bridge. All I could do was be inspired by the shining lights, the sea of royal blue and pristine green turf. There was zero thought given to transfer fees, FFP, geopolitics or xG.

That childish wonder led me to ask who that player was warming up in front of us. My Dad responded, “That’s Frank Lampard“, the player who would then go on to shape my blossoming love for the club and Chelsea.

It is hard to describe how much Chelsea means to me.

Is it the fact that I can hear the echoes of a crowd passing through the west London sky from my back garden if I’m not at the ground in my season-ticket seat?

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As I grew older, the fact that I started my own YouTube channel from my bedroom, covering the side. Doing this led me to form such wonderful connections far and wide with others who loved Chelsea as I did?

That channel leading me to the role I’m in now, where I write daily on Chelsea for a living?

When I hear phrases like “financial armageddon”, I think back to pre-Abramovich’s months when our very existence was in jeopardy. Or in 1986, the “Save the Bridge” campaign raised funds to ensure supporters could watch their club at Stamford Bridge.

I look at the tragic stories of Bury, Macclesfield and Wimbledon. The pain of losing a local institution and a beacon of hope in people’s lives.

Throughout all of this, I am rolling back to my treasured memories of my walks to and from Stamford Bridge, usually via Brompton Cemetry, as I see that beautiful stadium come into view.

The bond in the family between my Dad, Brother, Grandad and Uncles with all the shared experiences of happiness. Like many football fans will relate to, supporting Chelsea is a generational thing in my family. It is passed down. It is a part of our shared conversations, our moments to bond and the source of great stories.

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Is all of this morally wrong of me to care? I’m sure those who either despise Chelsea out of tribalism or take the “it’s just football” approach probably find mine and many other supporters’ fears foolish.

But they’re not, for those who love this club and value what it means to walk down the Fulham Road every other Saturday.

I have no answers, why would I?

I’m just praying Chelsea comes out of this for the better.

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