Worried Chelsea fans look to brighter future

March 10, 2022 Chelsea fans celebrate in the stands their third goal scored by Kai Havertz REUTERS

Chelsea supporters are concerned about a future without their billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich, but are confident that their team will continue to be successful on the pitch.

Fans arriving for Thursday's Premier League game at bottom side Norwich City, which third-placed Chelsea won 3-1, were still trying to digest the earlier news that sanctions had been imposed on Abramovich by the British government in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The latest development has put the Russian's attempts to sell the club on hold, but Chelsea supporters at Carrow Road were hopeful that the ownership issue could soon be resolved.

"I think someone in the next two to four weeks will buy the club," said fan Bradley Cozens. "It will just be the Abramovich era done then really. I think we'll still be successful. We just want an owner who will invest in the club like Abramovich did."

The Russian bought the club in 2003 for a reported 140 million pounds ($183 million) and his investment since then resulted in the most successful era in their 117-year history.

Chelsea have won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League twice under Abramovich.

"Obviously what's going on in Ukraine is bad but I feel like why should the fans of Chelsea football club be punished?" said 26-year-old Cozens, a lifelong Blues supporter. "But I've seen Chelsea win everything so I guess I'm alright.

"I went to Abu Dhabi to watch us win the Club World Cup (last month). I've had some great years following Chelsea."

As fans of the world and European champions congregated outside the Norwich stadium before the match on a mild evening singing "We've won it all", one Chelsea follower said she was "a bit emotional" after the turmoil of the past few weeks.

Asked what kind of owner she would like, long-time fan Debbie, wearing the team's blue and white scarf, said: "Someone really, really rich who loves Chelsea. From what I've read the sale can go through if it's approved by the government."

Luo Zhiyuan, a Chinese fan who lives in London, wants "an owner who cares about the club like Abramovich. Given the current situation it's probably best for him to be gone but he's done a lot for the club and we're very grateful."

He added that he was concerned about not being able to watch the team since only those who have already purchased tickets or who have season tickets will be allowed to attend matches while Chelsea operate under a special government licence.

"As fans we are forbidden from buying new tickets and I'm not a season ticket holder so that's the thing that most annoys me," said Luo, who has supported Chelsea for 14 years. "I've got two more home games to attend this season probably."

Supporters were also concerned that the club cannot enter into transfer deals for new players or receive money for selling existing players - effectively a transfer ban.

"We've got a few who are soon out of contract so I suspect that they will be off which will be a shame," added supporter Debbie.

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