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Chelsea FC

Chelsea FC Information

Address:   Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, LONDON. SW6 1HS
Telephone: (020) 7385 5545
Fax: (020) 7381 4831
Founded: 1905
Stadium: Stamford Bridge
Website: www.chelseafc.co.uk
   
 

Chelsea FC History

Chelsea Football Club (also known as the Blues, previously known as the Pensioners), founded in 1905, is a Premier League football team that plays at Stamford Bridge football ground in South west London. Notwithstanding the club's name, it is not actually based in the borough of Chelsea, but just outside its boundaries, in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. It is on the Fulham Road, which runs between Fulham and the borough district of Chelsea. Chelsea currently have the seventh longest unbroken tenure in the top division, having been there since the 1989-90 season.

Chelsea's history is inextricably linked to Stamford Bridge - the club's stadium since its inception - and its history, therefore, begins with the building of the stadium although this was before the foundation of the Club.

Stamford Bridge officially opened on 28 April 1877. For the first 28 years of its existence it was used almost exclusively by the London Athletic Club as an arena for athletics meetings and not for football at all. In 1904 the ownership of the ground changed hands when H A (Gus) Mears and his brother, J T Mears, obtained the deeds, having previously acquired additional land (formerly a large market garden) with the aim of establishing a football team there on the now 12.5 acre (51,000 m²) site. The Mears family remained the owners of the ground (and subsequently the Club) until the 1970s.

Stamford Bridge was designed by Archibald Leitch and initially included a 120 yard long stand on the East side which could hold 5000 spectators. The other sides were all open in a vast bowl with thousands of tons of material excavated from the building of the underground railway providing high terracing on the West side.

The stadium was initially offered to Fulham Football Club, but the offer was turned down. As a consequence, the owners decided to form Chelsea Football Club to occupy the new grounds. Most football clubs were founded first, and then sought grounds in which to play. By contrast and a historical quirk, Chelsea was founded for Stamford Bridge - a readymade club for the ground. Although technically in Fulham, the founders decided to adopt the name of the adjacent borough of Chelsea for the new club as there was already a Fulham Football Club in existence.

Chelsea F.C. was founded on March 14, 1905 at The Rising Sun pub (now The Greene Room) opposite today's main entrance to the ground on the Fulham Road. This was followed by the club's election into the Second Division at the Football League AGM on May 29, 1905. Chelsea's first match took place away at Stockport County on September 1, 1905. The Club began with established players recruited from other teams and promotion to the top flight was swift, but the club's early years were uneventful. Chelsea reached the FA Cup final in 1915, but no major honours were won until the 1954-55 season when Chelsea finished top of the First Division and lifted its first trophy - the league title.

The swinging 60's ushered in an era that saw football and inimitable style merge in the heart of London; with the fashionable King's Road at the heart of the swagger. A 60's Chelsea that oozed charisma and class soon built up a major following, but ultimately failed to match its swagger with on-field triumphs. No major domestic titles were won, except for the League Cup in 1965 (Chelsea's first League Cup), followed by an FA cup final loss in 1967.

The early 1970s saw a great Chelsea team which is still fondly remembered (not least because it was a couple of decades before its achievements were matched at the club): it featured the likes of Ron 'Chopper' Harris, Ian Hutchison and Peter Osgood. In 1970 Chelsea ran out F.A. Cup winners (beating 'dirty' Leeds 2-1 in a pulsating final). A UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph was added to the haul the following year - Chelsea's first non-domestic honour.

But there was no further success in that decade as the discipline of the team degenerated and an over-ambitious redevelopment of the stadium (which only got as far as the pioneering East Stand, which retains its place even in the modern stadium) threatened the financial stability of the club as well. Further problems were caused by a fearsome reputation for violence amongst a section of the supporters (the boundary between passion and hooliganism being dangerously narrow in those days) and the club started to fall apart both on and off the field.

The financial problems exacerbated the club's other difficulties and a spiral of decline began. Star players were sold off, the team was relegated, and the freehold of the stadium site was sold off to property developers, which was to create serious problems in the years to come.

As always, however, Chelsea retained its high profile; and its widespread base of supporters, many of them very hard core, saw it through what proved to be the very difficult years of the 1970's and 1980's. However, although relegated to the Second Division twice, it never fell further (although it came dangerously close).

Chelsea was, at the nadir of its fortunes, acquired from the Mears family interests by new Ken Bates for the princely sum of £1, and Bates proved to be a real fighter as the new Chairman, although his opponents included supporters (who did not take kindly to his suggestion of electrified fences to keep them off the pitch) as well as the property developers who now owned the freehold. In 1992, Bates finally outmanoevred the latter and reunited the freehold with the Club, by seeing the property developers go bust and doing a deal with their banks.

In the meantime, Chelsea had achieved promotion to the First Division again as Second Division champions in 1989 and, this time, it managed to stay in the top flight: indeed, it has remained there ever since.

In 1989-90, Chelsea finished fourth in the First Division under Bobby Campbell but were denied a place in the UEFA Cup because only the runners-up (Aston Villa) qualified for the competition. Campbell quit as manager the following season to be replaced by Reading manager Ian Porterfield, a former Chelsea player. In the inaugural 1992-1993 season of the Premier League Chelsea finished 11th, but not before seeing Porterfield resign and replaced (in a stop-gap capacity till the end of the season) by another former Chelsea player - David Webb, who had been part of the legendary 1970 FA Cup winning side. He made way for 35-year-old player-manager Glenn Hoddle at the end of the season.

Although Hoddle himself had no Chelsea pedigree at all - having spent his best playing years at rival London club Tottenham Hotspur - his appointment proved to be a turning point. Hoddle recruited world class players, albeit at the end of their careers, such as Ruud Gullit, and a vision of continental flair (Hoddle himself had played for AS Monaco) was introduced to the club. Upgrading of the stadium facilities also began again, now that the ownership question had been resolved, and a large contribution from millionnaire supporter Matthew Harding (later killed in a helicopter accident whilst travelling to an away game) made it possible to construct the present Matthew Harding Stand (the North Stand).

Hoddle's first season saw the club's league position drop 3 places to 14th - but this was made up for by the club reaching in 1994 its first FA Cup final since 1970. The final was lost 4-0 to Manchester United in a game marred by the award of two penalties against Chelsea.

But since Manchester United had won the Premiership, the runners up spot nevertheless qualified Chelsea for the 1994-95 Cup Winners' Cup competition. This was its first participation in non-domestic competition since its former glory days in the early 1970's and marked another step forward for the club. Chelsea reached the semi-finals in the 1994-1995 Cup Winners' Cup competition (losing by a single goal). The same season saw a respectable if unexciting mid-table Premiership finish at 11th place.

The 1995-96 season saw Chelsea finishing 11th in the Premiership - its third 11th place finish in four seasons. Hoddle left at the end of the season to manage the England national team. He was replaced as player-manager by the 33-year-old Ruud Gullit, the celebrated Dutch exponent of 'total football' who had joined the club a year earlier on a free transfer from Sampdoria.

Under Gullit, Chelsea started winning major honours again. He made history in 1996-97 by being the first foreign manager to win the FA Cup when his Chelsea side beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in the Final. That game set the record for the fastest goal scored in an F.A. Cup ever - with Chelsea's Roberto di Matteo scoring 43 seconds into the game. This was Chelsea's first major trophy for 25 years. Chelsea also achieved its best-yet finish in the Premiership, in sixth place.

In February 1998, Gullit was suddenly sacked as manager following a dispute with the board of directors. Another of Chelsea's star foreign players, the veteran Italian striker Gianluca Vialli took over as player-manager and quickly established himself by winning two major competitions - the domestic League Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup, both in 1998. By now, Chelsea had one of the largest contingents of foreign players in the Premiership, and had the dubious distinction of being the first team to field a non-English starting 11. Out went the likes of Gareth Hall, Mark Stein, Paul Furlong, David Rocastle and John Spencer. In came Dutch goalkeeper Ed de Goey, Nigerian defender Celestine Babayaro, Italian striker Gianfranco Zola (in 2003, voted as the best player in club history by the fans) and French midfielder Bernard Lambourde. But important English players remaining in the side included defender Graeme Le Saux and midfielder and Captain Dennis Wise.

Under Vialli, Chelsea continued to win trophies faster than at any time in its previous history. Chelsea lifted the European Super Cup at the start of 1998-99 season when it beat the reigning European Cup champions Real Madrid. Vialli subsequently led Chelsea to victory in the FA Cup in 2000 (the last showpiece final to be held at Wembley before its redevelopment). Chelsea also won the Charity Shield in August 2000. But despite these trophies, Vialli was sacked in September 2000. He had, it was reported, lost the confidence of his players.

Another Italian, Claudio Ranieri, replaced him as manager and set about rebuilding what was now an ageing side. Ranieri was Chelsea manager for four years, and bought players wisely without having unlimited funds at his disposal. His team, whilst it disappointingly won no honours, routinely pushed for a top 3 finish in the league and qualified, through its league positions, for UEFA Cup competition in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. In 2002 Chelsea reached the final of the FA Cup, but were beaten finalists at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Ranieri qualified for the 2003-04 Champions League competition in his penultimate season - a competition that saw the high of an emotional Chelsea victory over their London rivals Arsenal, followed by the low of ignominious defeat in the semi-final by 10-man Monaco. In the Premiership, Chelsea finished an extraordinary 2003-4 season as Premier League runners up - their highest league placing for half a century - once again qualifying them for the Champions League.

By now, the Club's extravagant spending on players and on buildings had caused it to accumulate huge debts of some £80 million which had brought it to the brink of insolvency. But in July 2003, Chelsea was suddenly acquired from Ken Bates by Roman Abramovich, a previously unknown Russian billionaire who was far and away the richest person ever to acquire a British football club. British tabloids immediately dubbed the club Chelski.

At a stroke, Abramovich used his fortune to wipe out the club's substantial debt, and then proceeded to fund the acquisition of new players on an unprecedented scale. New signings for the start of the 2003/04 season included the Irish left winger Damien Duff, Cameroon international right-sided midfielder Njitap Geremi, French midfielder Claude Makelele who joined from Real Madrid, Argentinian striker Hernán Crespo, English youngsters Wayne Bridge, Glen Johnson and Joe Cole and the Argentinian midfielder Juan Sebastián Verón. During the Christmas transfer period English midfielder Scott Parker joined after having impressed with his performances for Charlton Athletic.

Despite his side finishing runners-up in Premier League during the 2003-2004 season, and reaching the semi finals of the Champions League, manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked at the end of his fourth season at the Club, and first season under Abramovich's ownership, on 31 May 2004. It was clear that Abramovich wanted more than runners up status for his new club - and it seemed that he had the money to get what he wanted. Ranieri was well-liked inside and outside the Club, but he had won nothing, worked only with the first team, and did not share the holistic vision the board had for a manager in his capacity.

Ranieri's replacement is one of the most successful young managers of recent times - José Mourinho. Having won successive Portuguese league titles, the UEFA Cup, and the Champions League on the trot with an unfancied FC Porto, he was appointed Chelsea manager on 2 June 2004.

Mourinho's signings of Didier Drogba, Mateja Kezman, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, and Tiago, coupled with the already-agreed deals for Arjen Robben and Petr Cech, pushed Abramovich's total spending on players above £200 million.

In the 2004-05 season, Chelsea went on to win the 2005 League (Carling) Cup, beating Liverpool 3-2 in the final. They are also top of the Premiership, and have advanced to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
 

Chelsea FC Honours, Trophies & Awards

  • FA Premier League
    • Runners-Up: 2003-04
  • Division 1
    • Winners: 1954-55
  • Division 2
    • Winners: 1983-84, 1988-89
    • Runners-Up: 1906-07, 1911-12, 1929-30, 1962-63, 1976-77
  • FA Cup
    • Winners: 1970, 1997, 2000
    • Runners-Up: 1915, 1967, 1994, 2002
  • League Cup
    • Winners: 1965, 1998, 2005
    • Runners-Up: 1972
  • FA Charity Shield/Community Shield
    • Winners: 1956, 2000
    • Runners-Up: 1971, 1997
  • Full Members' Cup
    • Winners: 1986, 1990
  • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
    • Winners: 1970-71, 1997-98
  • UEFA Super Cup
    • Winners: 1998
  • FA Youth Cup
    • Winners: 1960, 1961
    • Runners-Up: 1958
 

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