Chelsea supporters want club hierarchy to provide a new engagement strategy


The rumblings of discontent from the stands are starting to ruffle a few feathers in the corridors of power at Stamford Bridge.

The past few weeks has seen chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’’ aimed at Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino, after he had substituted Mykhailo Mudryk, to the booing of Raheem Sterling when he was replaced – both in the FA Cup match against Leicester City before the international break.

There then followed a Chelsea Supporters’ Trust letter to the club highlighting the need to develop a new engagement strategy as they feel things are not how they should be when it comes to having a say in how the club is run and future plans for it under the new stewardship.

The ire is directed at Chelsea’s hierarchy and the trust feel that supporters need a coherent, detailed strategy update on their medium to long-term plans. This would include plans for the stadium which is now nine years on from when former owner Roman Abramovich first mooted the idea – with no progress made.

Chelsea produced a somewhat wooly response stating their ambition to talk to fans. The trust issued a response that basically said the club was not addressing the issues they had raised.

No doubt tomorrow’s league match against Burnley at the Bridge will be one that the hierarchy, fans, and perhaps players too will be keenly watching.

One of the issues seems to be around the ‘relationship’ between the fans and the players.

This was easily identified ‘back in the day’ long before the Premier League was founded in 1992 and players were treated as assets.

Back then players were paid, while more than the average man or woman in the street, not enough more that they did not live a life separated from their community.

Players would occasionally travel by public transport to games, or pop into their local boozer and feel part of the area where they lived.

Clubs didn’t care then, players were not valuable enough to warrant special attention. Now of course it’s different, players are kept apart from the fans unless it’s in a tightly-controlled environment.

Players, by and large, just want to go about their own business undisturbed by fans.

Now while there were lots of homegrown players in the starting 11, the disconnect was not too obvious. Those players might have been in the stands as kids and fully understood what it meant to play for Chelsea.

The cosmopolitan dynamic of the vast majority of players being overseas means less obvious appreciation of the fans.

One exception within the current squad is Thiago Silva who, along with his wife Bella, hits social media to say it as it is on occasion.

But it’s not all bad – post-match, if you walk along Fulham Road towards the Tube station, traffic is heavy. Some fans are wise to this and know players, in their own cars, have to stop. It’s an opportunity for the fans, usually kids but sometimes those of an older persuasion, to tap the window and ask for an autograph.

Last time out, I waited outside Fulham Broadway Tube and watched Cole Palmer and Trevoh Chalobah patiently, and with good grace, offer selfies and signatures to those lucky enough to nab them.

It was fan engagement at its rawest – but in the current climate it’s the best that can be hoped for.


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