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Chelsea Accused Of Attempting To Stifle Stadium Protest

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It never rains but it pours, eh? The Say No CPO crowd was at it again at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, handing out flyers detailing the reasons that shareholders shouldn't accept Chelsea's proposal to buy them out. They are, of course, completely right to do so - even for those of us who'd like to see the Blues move to, say, Battersea, the proposal as it stands is nonsensical.

As far as I know, the pamphlet distribution was a success, but the Daily Mail has quoted Blues fan Mark Williams as claiming that a banner he brought in protesting a potential move got him in hot water with the stadium stewards:

They were quite aggressive. They demanded I unroll the banner then read it and said, "We won't have that kind of banner in the ground". They seemed very aware that the game was on television. I don't care [that the club didn't want me to unveil the banner]. I did this on behalf of the 12,000 shareholders, who the club seem to be trying to ignore. This is about our history and we deserve to be heard.

Considering Bruce Buck was on Chelsea TV on Friday claiming that he supported expressions of free speech in the ground as long as it wasn't causing anyone any harm, it's a little bit rich that Chelsea would be trying to censor banners, even if they're as lunatic as Mr. Williams' 'Chelsea Grass Roots Not For Sale' nonsense. The club seems to have mishandled the CPO situation from the beginning, and for me this is just another example of a PR mistake. And for goodness sake, if you're going to censor something, you might as well actually censor it rather than let Mr. William's keep the banner and unveil it anyway.

NB: As pointed out in the comments, there's a much bigger incentive for the protesters to lie about being censored than for Chelsea to do the censoring in the first place. That's something to bear in mind as we try to process this story, especially considering that the club apparently tried and failed to censor Mr. William's banner, which I think we all can agree is rather odd...