Chelsea “deeply regret” their decision to join the European Super League, though they have criticised some fans for directing abuse at club officials.
The Blues were one of 12 teams to join the proposed breakaway league, only to then change their decision within 48 hours.
Chelsea’s withdrawal came amid pressure from the media, politicians, fellow clubs, UEFA, the Premier League and the Football Association (FA), while hundreds of supporters gathered outside Stamford Bridge prior to Tuesday’s contest with Brighton and Hove Albion, with Petr Cech having to mediate with the protesters.
In an open letter to Chelsea’s fans, the club’s board and owner Roman Abramovic have offered their apologies, indicating they joined the group in order to keep in touch with their major rivals.
It stated: “Our ambition with Chelsea has always been to make it the best club in the world, both on the pitch and in how we work with, and give back to the community off it.
“The joint decision to join the European Super League was driven by this same ambition. When it became clear that a new league might be formed, we did not want Chelsea to miss out on the opportunity to play in such a potentially prominent league, nor did we want to risk the club falling behind our closest English and European rivals in competitive terms.
“As a club, we are committed to an open and regular dialogue with our fans and other stakeholders, but, on this occasion, regrettably, due to time constraints and confidentiality restraints, this was not achieved.
“We recognise we should have addressed these issues in advance of joining the group. The owner and board understand that involving the club in such a proposal was a decision we should not have taken. It is a decision we deeply regret.”
A letter to supporters of Chelsea FC.
Chelsea did, however, add that some of the debate had transitioned into abuse.
“The club does ask, however, that this dialogue is conducted in a respectful way,” the statement continued.
“The abuse which some club representatives have been the target of over the past few days is not acceptable. Antisemitism, sexism, racism and threats of violence have no place in our community nor in this discussion.
“We hope that you will help us make sure that a respectful tone remains, even when we disagree.”
Chelsea’s London rivals Tottenham are facing a major fan backlash of their own, and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) demanded the club’s executive board resign over the Super League episode.
THST called for “elected and accountable fan representation” on a new board, attacking those currently in office.
The Trust said in a statement: “The consequences of their decision to attempt to launch this breakaway league could now lead to substantial penalties against Spurs – points deductions, suspension from competition, financial penalties, other sanctions.
“They signed up to this plan knowing they risked all that, and knowing they risked their players being banned from international competition. The responsibility of the club’s board is to always act in the best interests of THFC.
“The current board clearly has not acted in the best interests of the football club. In fact, its action could still lead to outcomes that are in the worst interests of THFC. We think their relationship with us is irreparably broken. And we think their continued presence risks punitive action being taken against the club.
“We believe the immediate resignation of the current executive board is in the best long-term interests of the club.”