One of the considerations during the search for new ownership earlier this year was their potential engagement with fans, and while ideas such as a “shadow board” or a “Golden Share” are in no danger of becoming reality just yet, we did have one “fans’ forum” already as supporters groups met with the club. Representatives from the Chelsea side included Director Daniel Finkelstein, Director of Operations Paul Kingsmore, and Head of Ticketing Graham Smith, among others.
This meeting actually took place back in early October, not long after the sacking of Thomas Tuchel and the appointment of Graham Potter as head coach, but the full minutes were only published earlier this week. (Incidentally, the second fans’ forum took place yesterday).
As ever, the minutes make for an interesting read if you’re curious about what issues fans have raised with the club, but the part that is perhaps most relevant to all of us is the reiteration of the new owners’ vision for the club. None of this may be new information — especially two months on — but here it is in written form again, which might add a bit more weight and clarity to it. Obviously, it’s all just a high-level
The Club was asked what the vision is for the Club in light of the sacking of Thomas Tuchel. It responded that a major aspect is to recruit the best young players in the world to help ensure the success of the team in the future. We are also looking at the multi-club model to circumvent issues arising from Brexit. We want the Club’s departments to be working together better. It’s fully acknowledged Thomas is a very good manager but the owners wanted alignment regarding the workings of the Club. It wasn’t about short term results so far this season.
It’s clear the owners want to spend big money on player recruitment and we have to be aware of financial fair play over the long term. Feeder clubs and younger players help us address this. We received advice from Neil Bath as to whom to buy.
In response to a question, the Club added that as well as the Forum we are looking at having a shadow board as a formal aspect of communication. However the Club also welcomes informal feedback directly from fans in order to gauge a wide range of views. We have very good owners who want to build on the success of the Abramovich era.
There is a clear path to the first team from our academy as shown by the number of former juniors in the first team squad. Playing for feeder clubs gives them good experience too. Reece James’ contract was renegotiated early as we want to ensure our best players are here for the long term. It was made clear to Armando Broja that he would get opportunities.
The issue of the stadium rebuild was brought up as well, with the club reiterating what we’ve heard from Jonathan Goldstein elsewhere since.
The stadium issue has made headlines in The Sun and the Mail this week as well, but they’re just running with a line from the Chelsea Pitch Owners’ full-year accounts (for the fiscal year ending July 31) that were published on December 5, about commitment from the owners about staying at the Bridge, which was reiterated at this fans’ forum as well.
The Club said it is fully aware of the pros and cons of rebuilding stand by stand or moving out for a rebuild. It wants to take its time looking at the financial implications as well as the implications for supporters. We have our commitment with Chelsea Pitch Owners to remain at Stamford Bridge and are at a very early stage for such a big issue.
There certainly seems to be a solid long-term vision, with more than enough financial backing to make it a reality. Let’s hope we make good decisions along the way.