As a child of the early 80s, I witnessed some incredible Arsenal success in the first 20 years of my life.
Anfield 89, domestic cup double, 1994, the double, the double double and the invincible season.
Success can be like a drug. You become hooked and crave more.
I was never fully addicted to success. Arsenal were never really undisputed number one during the period (Manchester United). It made the success we gained feel different.
The next 8 years of my life was a mini-rehab, with Arsenal failing to win a trophy. Since then it has been sporadic FA Cup wins.
At no point did I support Arsenal because we won things, or go to games purely for that hit of success. It has always been more than the 90 minutes for me.
That is why when Roman Abramovich and later Sheikh Mansour came in firing their billions from their tanks, I was not bothered.
When Arsenal fans were calling for Alisher Usmanov to come on and match Abramovich, I wanted nothing of it.￼
I recognised that these sort of billionaires were a short term option – although Abramovich has lasted longer than anyone would have expected in 2003.
The sort of ownership that Chelsea had always felt “boom and bust”. A bubble that could burst at any point.
Often in the 00s you heard fans say “what happens when Roman gets bored / assassinated / sanctioned”; well that is on the verge of happening.
And Chelsea’s business model can not survive without someone pumping in hundreds of millions a year.
Under Abramovich, Chelsea have received over £1.5cm on loans from him to offset losses. £500m has come in the last 5 years.
He has always been happy to bankroll the club to success. But there are not too many others in the world with the sort of disposable income to firstly buy the club off Roman and then continue bankrolling it.
A more realistic scenario is a consortium of rich men come in and the club is broken up into individual shares.
Or a single American (or Jim Ratcliffe) come in and buy the club outright.
But these will all be businessmen. Looking town the club as an investment in the same way Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United are owned.
They worked hard to build up their fortunes and would unlikely bankroll the club. For them it would be an investment, not a play thing.
After being crowned Champions of the World, Chelsea fans are quickly waking up to the reality that the Roman era is over. And that their drug of choice (success) might be in short supply in the very near future.
Some have said “I don’t care if the club folds, I have seen us win everything”. And this is the short sighted viewpoint that I could never side with.
When Roman came in, we all knew it was a bubble and when it burst it could collapse very quickly. I didn’t want a Roman as I wanted an Arsenal for my children. For my grand children. For the next generations. The next 100 years. You do not get that with the boom and bust model of being a rich man’s play thing.
It shows how addicted these fans are to the success that they would rather go cold turkey and walk away then continue supporting their club regardless of what happens.
I have always said about Arsenal that I will be there through thick and thin. Premier League to non-league (if it happened).
You always had the feeling that whilst some Chelsea were the same – the hardcore few thousand that turned up in the early 90s – the majority were hangers on. Would soon unhook themselves from the drug when the success dried up and found another source for their drug.
These fans will begin supporting Manchester City, or take their fandom to a club in another country. They might even step away from football and begin to follow Max Verstappen I t he hope he gives them that rush.
If Roman does sell, Chelsea will struggle to maintain their position and it will be over for all of those fans who only supported them because they won trophies.
RIP Chelsea FC.