The chants grew louder as the Newcastle fans arrived at Stamford Bridge in front of a crowd of lighthearted Chelsea supporters.
Chelsea went bankrupt everywhere they went,” they gloated.
The opportunity to seize the misfortune of an opponent is an open target that fans from the north-east of England will not miss.
But aside from the mocking songs, there are few clear signs around Chelsea’s stadium to signal the unprecedented situation the Premier League club is currently in – only allowed to operate under a special license. British government after owner Roman Abramovich was punished for his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The freezing of Abramovich’s assets limits Chelsea’s ability to generate income. As a result, the club’s shops have remained closed since Thursday when the sanctions against Abramovich were announced. No day magazines are allowed for sale. The only fans allowed into Sunday’s 1-0 win over Newcastle must purchase tickets by Thursday.
The reigning European and world champions are trying to send the message that they are running out of cash – becoming “skints” in British colloquialism – to pressure the government to ease restrictions. limited before a quick sale can be completed to end Abramovich’s 19 years of age. own year.
“Chelsea’s skint,” another song by Magpies fans, “and Mags is rich.”
Newcastle certainly has the richest owners in football. But it is ownership that denies Newcastle fans the ability to assume a moral high point. However, in a match where the chants are most memorable, they still shouted: “Abramovich was a war criminal.”
Abramovich has been targeted in a crackdown on the fortunes of Russian oligarchs in the UK with Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine – an invasion that has been condemned by the Premier League – in its third week.
And yet, federation officials in October approved the sale of Newcastle to a Saudi sovereign wealth fund led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite objections from human rights activists.
On the eve of the match against Chelsea – dubbed the “sports derby” – Bin Salman’s regime carried out the largest known mass execution in the kingdom’s modern history by killing 81 people convicted of crimes ranging from murder to being part of a militant group.
Amnesty International UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said: “In an age of global sporting cleansing and with the horror of what is happening in Ukraine,” the Premier League has a moral responsibility. Germany clearly has to change its ownership regulations to prevent top flights English football is being used as a PR vehicle for those who are complicit in serious human rights abuses. “
The Newcastle fans were unmoved and still waved the Saudi flag at the away field in west London.
“I’m going to stick with football,” said Newcastle manager Eddie Howe when asked about the country running his club to launch mass executions.
It is a stance that downplays how clubs in world football can be used as political tools.
“I’ve made my point,” Howe replied curtly.
It’s not an easy situation even some Newcastle fans admit they are at odds, although spending more than $100 million in the first transfer window under Saudi ownership has helped. The team exited the relegation zone. While Newcastle shows solidarity for the Ukrainian victims of Russian aggression, Saudi Arabia is engaged in the fight against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has caused a terrible humanitarian disaster. best of the world.
Currently, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has close relations with Saudi Arabia and its ambassador in Riyadh celebrated the purchase of Newcastle. But Abramovich’s moves against British businesses are a cautionary tale for Newcastle fans celebrating their new investment and the potential geopolitical tensions could impact a Premier League side. how.
“Boris Johnson, he’s coming for you,” were compliments from Chelsea for the Newcastle visitors.
Outside, Newcastle fans listen to Angie Conlon, a Chelsea fan descending from the north-east city, reflect on the authorities’ broader responsibility in assessing owners’ funding before the fall of Abramovich.
“This could easily have happened because Saudi Arabia is doing terrible things to the people in Yemen,” said Conlon, who has been at Chelsea games since the 1970s. “It just shows that if we have (new) owners – we are bound to have billionaire owners, otherwise you can’t buy this club these days – anything can happen. Out could change that in a week. Really, we wouldn’t have made it to the end of the season without selling this club.”
Perhaps it was the realization of the severity of the current situation facing Chelsea that ensured there was no repeat on Sunday of Abramovich’s exhortations that interrupted last weekend’s support for Ukraine in match against Burnley.
Still hanging at Stamford Bridge, however, the “Roman Empire” banner is dedicated to the owner, who has sponsored 21 titles since 2003 for a club that had won only 10 of the previous 98 years. .
“You would never change any of the Chelsea fans’ opinions of him,” said 64-year-old fan Kim Clark. “Never because of what he did for this club.”
Just like it has been for three decades, Clark is running an informal stall near Chelsea Stadium. There were a few books about Abramovich for sale and old magazines – the only ones that were sold with the government banning the club from selling new ones.
“We knew there would be sanctions, we understood that something had to be done,” Clark said. “It’s getting tiny…but that’s all the stimulant effects are happening now. It is affecting the fans. “
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/premier-league/eddie-howe-vows-to-stick-to-football-after-match-dubbed-sportswashing-derby-asks-awkward-questions-of-premier-league-41442571.html Eddie Howe vows to ‘stick to football’ after game dubbed ‘sports derby’ raises awkward question about Premier League