The coronavirus pandemic has hit all sectors of the economy and daily life very hard, and football certainly hasn’t been spared either, especially lower down the pyramid where the entire existence of hundreds if not thousands of clubs is very much under serious threat.
We can feel fortunate the Chelsea are big enough and rich enough these days to survive a blow like COVID-19 — probably would not have been the case before 2013 — and we can also feel proud that the club’s response to the crisis has been most exemplary.
While other clubs have considered furloughing non-playing staff (with most reversing course after intense public pressure), Chelsea have kept paying even casual matchday staff despite no actual matches being played. And according to Goal, those wages will continue to be paid in full through at least April. Presumably, we will keep them going through the end of what would’ve been the season.
If and when football does resume, matches will likely be held behind closed doors — and that could be the case for quite some time. That will reduce the need for matchday staff, but those are decisions for the future. For now, like all the players, they’re getting their full wages.
Meanwhile, Chelsea continue to support the relief efforts of the National Health Service and various charities. In addition to making the stadium hotel freely available to NHS workers and the stadium grounds available as free parking, Chelsea have begun to provide free meals this week to the NHS as well as charities working with the elderly. The scheme is set to run for six weeks, with 13,000 meals provided each week through Chelsea’s catering partner, Levy (78,000 total).
“Chelsea FC’s support ensures that Age UK in Kensington and Chelsea can supply fresh daily meals to older vulnerable and isolated people. They include people living with dementia, significant frailty and illnesses such as cancer. Covid-19 is frightening and challenging, but the community response has been heart-warming. We are really grateful to Chelsea FC who have stepped up to help out so generously.”
-Jess Millwood, CEO of Age UK Kensington and Chelsea; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea have also launched a campaign recently with the Refuge charity, which aims to help those at risk of domestic violence especially during these locked-in times.
“Our owner, Roman Abramovich, has been instrumental in challenging us to find ways to support those in need and after we successfully launched the Refuge campaign and made the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge available to the NHS, this [free meals campaign] was the priority so I am pleased to see it begin.”
-Bruce Buck, chairman; source: Chelsea FC