Chelsea Balls: Young Henry And The Bankers Have Killed The Atmosphere At Stamford Bridge
CHELSEA manager Jose Mouinho says the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge is like”Playing here is like playing in an empty stadium”.
He’s right. The modern Chelsea fan is a rugby-loving, glory-hunter for whom the match is a theatrical distraction between courses and ski trips. Young Henry and his banker dad are not alone. It’s like this at Arsenal, Manchester United, Spurs and more. The teenage fans who used to sing and go nuts can no longer afford to get in. Rocking up the match with a group of your mates is no longer an option. You arrived early to get your pitch. The atmosphere built as kick-off approached. Lost in the crowd, you sang. You all sang. Now the seats are empty as the middle-aged knobs queue for buns and souvenirs. Only the weathy or those die-hard adults who spend all they’ve got on the tickets can get in.
In our list of the most bizarre things banned from football grounds, you can add ‘youths’.
As an Arsenal fan, I recall the hostility endured during a trip to Chelsea. The aggro I can do without. But now the streets around the ground recapture the mood of a mooch around Selfridges as you wait for your mum to finish at the hairdressers.
I went to an FA Cup do, sponsored by an American fizzy drinks brand. A Q & A with the panel, featured my Crystal Palace supporting mate asking John Barnes about that epic 1989 semi-final with Barnes’s Liverpool, who had not long before annihilated Palace 9-0.
The next question was asked by a prosperous looking American corporate type. “I’m a huge Chelsea fan,” he began. To which my Palace pal said in a loud voice, “Yeah, you sound like one.”
Tony Evans writes:
Go back 20 or 30 years to a time when ticket prices were much more affordable and Stamford Bridge was a very different place to visit. Atmospheric, hostile and raw, it occasionally veered towards excess but it was an authentic stadium that belonged, in a non-financial sense, to the community from which it had sprung. For good and bad, the Taylor Report that followed the Hillsborough disaster changed that.
On the plus side, Chelsea, like all other leading clubs, embraced the need to improve safety, but on the negative side, Chelsea, like all other leading clubs, ignored Lord Taylor’s recommendation for the introduction of all-seater stadia to be accompanied by “a price structure which suits the cheapest seats to the pockets of those presently paying to stand” and a great deal of identity has been lost as a result…
If Mourinho really wants Stamford Bridge to become more atmospheric then it is in his gift to make that happen. But if all he does is criticise those who pay extortionate ticket prices for not making enough noise then he is complicit in the problem.