But wasn’t it all so fantastic?

OPINION: People say that money has ruined all football but Chelsea were – are – an extreme case

Friday, 4th March — By Richard Osley

chelsea stock image

IF Russia had not rained down rockets on Ukraine, then Chelsea would not be up for sale. A land has been invaded, and the Champions of Europe are on the market.

Whether you think the outgoing owner is involved in politics or not, that’s a pretty strange chain of events.

Not that you would know it from the way Roman Abramovich’s name was sung by the supporters on Wednesday night in the cup match against Luton.

On social media, meanwhile, he was thanked like a hero and cheered as if he had stopped global warming, cured disease and reopened Woolworths.

You can’t really blame the fans too much for the myopia. My guess is that supporters of most clubs would gladly welcome in anybody offering a bottomless pit of money.

People say that money has ruined all football but Chelsea were – are – an extreme case. Lucky, but not so wholesomely, for them they were picked by a buyer who could inject never-ending funds without ever asking for it back or expecting to make a profit. Take note, Arsenal fans, Stan Kroenke will want a profit. They’re just deciding which old kit to bring back next under the label “retro” for you to buy all over again.

Arsenal, Spurs and the rest of the league, it is now clear as ever, were up against a man who this week said he doesn’t expect his £1.6billion in loans back. Imagine how much he must have to not need to call such a figure in.

Truth be told, there have only been a handful of national reporters who have asked questions and written about where all roubles came from in the first place.

Matthew Syed on The Times was one – but when he went on Sky to explain the history, he was faced with presenters essentially responding with “yeah but isn’t the Premier League fantastic” and Tony Cascarino mumbling on about how lots of people are a little bit iffy now and again so where do you start and stop.

But this week, our national press was suddenly interested.

Mainly news correspondents rather than sports reporters. Why would that be? Surely writing anything remotely critical or slightly questioning about the money pile on which Chelsea’s modern era success has been founded would not jeopardise their press pass access to Premier League grounds.

In the end, they preferred hanging on every word Jose Mourinho said at press conferences instead of a deep dive into the cash figures. They drank up “the special one” narrative that the new manager had written for himself without a question.

Finally being a bit braver this week, the football press corps asked a few tougher questions – and both Thomas Tuchel and Frank Lampard were left suggesting they should not be answering questions about ownership.

No, they should be asking them too.

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