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Why did Chelsea refuse Paul Canoville's book signing in 2008?

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Chelsea's first black player called it "a shame" that he was not afforded the same treatment as now given to his former teammate Kerry Dixon.

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Paul Canoville was the first black player to play for Chelsea Football Club back in 1982, and while that doesn't sound like it was that long ago, English football was different world back then.  Despite suffering racial abuse from his own "supporters" in the terraces, he would go on to make over 100 appearances for the club, scoring 15 goals and helping Chelsea achieve promotion to the top flight in 1984.  His remarkable story, living, working, fighting through such adversity on the pitch and overcoming various other personal and medical issues off of it, including a drug habit and beating cancer multiple times, are all detailed in his excellent autobiography Black And Blue, which should be required reading for all Chelsea fans.  They might say we ain't got no history, but that's no reason to forget and ignore the parts we're not proud of.

Canoville's book came out in 2008, won numerous awards and served as the basis for a documentary that was aired last year by Sky Sports.  But it's the release of another book, Canoville's teammate Kerry Dixon's autobiography that prompted Canoville to reveal something long forgotten on Twitter (assuming that this is about an incident around the time of the book's release, rather than a more recent one).

Not a good look for Chelsea Football Club, to say the least.  Dixon, the "Golden Boy" who has had his brush with drugs and controversy off the pitch as well (including a nine-month jail sentence last year for an assault charge), will be signing copies of his book at the Chelsea Megastore on Sunday 23 October.

"The troubles he [Dixon] had, I've had the same. What's the difference with me? How do they regard me?"

"I've been fighting. The fans will look at that and ask 'How did you not have a book signing?' This is no disrespect to Kerry. [But] It's a shame [for me]."

-Paul Canoville; source: Evening Standard

In a story published by the Daily Mail in 2009, the reason given for not holding a signing session was the "drug element".

The club resisted selling his book in the club shop, citing the drug element as the reason, but they helped him get a ticket for the FA Cup Final against Everton and he certainly feels more valued than before.

-source: Mail

In the Abramovich era, Chelsea have made great strides in bringing former players, alienated under the previous regime, back into the extended Chelsea family.  In that same Mail story from 2009 Canoville himself talked about his improving relationship with the club.  A couple seasons ago he was even a special guest* on the pre-season tour of the USA, one of the club legends helping to grow the fanbase around the world.  He also regularly works with the Chelsea FC Foundation.

* as it's been pointed out elsewhere, he was a special guest of Chelsea in America (i.e. the supporter's club), rather than the club themselves, though the distinction may be academic in terms of his relationship with all things Chelsea.

There's been no official response from Chelsea, but presumably the Evening Standard had reached out for comment to someone, somewhere, who responded thusly.

Standard Sport understands that Chelsea's strict deals with publishers in 2008 would have prevented the club from publicising Canoville's book, which was not produced as part of those partnerships.

The club have more leeway with such publicity now, however, which has allowed Chelsea to hand Dixon an official signing session for his book that will detail his past problems with gambling and drugs.

-source: Evening Standard

Fan reaction to Canoville's tweet has been unanimous outrage and rightly so.  From the club's side, we only have semi-understandable but certainly not adequate explanation.  Certainly not now, eight years later and with "more leeway" afforded by the club's various marketing and business partnerships.

Must do better.