On the one hand, Chelsea are supposedly so concerned that the relationship between Chelsea fans and the Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri, has gotten so bad, that they will have to get rid of him after just one season and despite achieving his minimum expectations. While the fanbase, in general, seems to have turned on Sarri more so than any other manager in the Roman Era — Benítez was hated from the beginning; if there was a shift, it actually shifted in the positive direction by the end — it still seems odd that fans’ concerns would play such a big role in the club’s decisions.
And that’s especially true when you consider that on the other hand, Chelsea continue to practically ignore all the issues fans are facing in trying to get to Baku, Azerbaijan for the Europa League final. Not even a token acknowledgement, like Arsenal have done with their statement to UEFA, let alone some subsidized travel seems to be forthcoming from the Blues while over half our already meager ticket allocation is getting returned.
Meanwhile, the official website is giving out information about the Chelsea mascots and free schwag in the official fan zone, not to mention the reprehensible “Media Watch” section talking up one father and son’s weeklong journey to Baku because the don’t want to pay the equivalent of a season ticket to get a game (thanks, Thomas Cook!).
It’s a bad situation made worse by inattention and lack of care, which has prompted Chelsea Supporters’ Trust to release a strongly worded statement of their own, criticizing both UEFA and Chelsea for their parts in this growing fiasco.
The Europa League Final in Baku - our statement on the issues facing supporters < Chelsea Supporters Trust https://t.co/e5bmvsk24m— ChelseaSupportersTrust (@ChelseaSTrust) May 24, 2019
It follows, in part — the full statement is available on the CST’s official website.
We are extremely disappointed that Chelsea FC have been unable or unwilling to help Chelsea supporters overcome the travel, expense and logistics in order for them to support the team in a European final. This, in spite of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust’s suggestions as to how the club could offer material help to supporters wishing to go to Baku.
We suggested providing a subsidy for travelling supporters, having calculated the negligible financial impact on the club given the revenue earned from the competition this season. This is pertinent when considering that Chelsea FC’s travel partner, Thomas Cook, is charging an extortionate £979 for the official package for the day trip to Baku. Furthermore, the late notice of the UK airport to be used for both departure and return means it is hard for travellers to plan.
The price for Thomas Cook’s package is more expensive than most season tickets, and again it is disappointing that the club did not feel they could offer supporters an extension for season ticket renewals, as they have done before when Chelsea supporters faced additional expense due to the club’s participation in a European final. Tottenham Hotspur for example have extended their season ticket renewals to help supporters cash flow.
Chelsea is the only club of the four English European finalists insisting all of their supporters collect their tickets from a designated ticket pick-up location, even though tickets are clearly freely available. To compound things, supporters cannot take advantage of the free travel in Baku until they have their match ticket. Surely Chelsea could have re-thought their policy in lieu of the exceptional circumstances of the trip to Baku?
The lack of a statement from Chelsea FC is also disappointing. Arsenal FC, issued a statement expressing frustration and disappointment on behalf of their supporters; acknowledging the unsuitability of the venue, the challenges faced by supporters travelling to Baku and the need to ensure more care by UEFA in future venue selection. While this may not make any difference to UEFA’s immediate decision making, at the very least it sent out a message to their supporters that they were concerned about the difficulties they face and were on their side.
A similar statement from Chelsea would have engendered some much-needed goodwill from the supporters.
And, given the large numbers of Chelsea supporters who are extremely disappointed in not being able to get to Baku to support the team, we believe that Chelsea FC have missed a great opportunity to benefit from another gesture of goodwill by facilitating a ‘live broadcast’ or ‘beam back’ of the match, at Stamford Bridge or another suitable venue.
This would have been very well received and while never able to replace the experience of being in Baku, it might have mitigated some of the disappointment.”
Hopefully we will get one.