THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Sunday 6 September ~

Let’s face it, none of us follow football because it makes us happy. What happens on and off the field elicits little besides blasphemy, frustrated growls or stoical groans. Week after week, the results are all wrong and the players we hate most sign new contracts adding another 30 grand a week to their unfeasibly chubby pay cheques. At the same time, clubs at all levels are locked in a continual struggle for cash, with 75 per cent of teams run by charlatans, managed by incompetents and supported by increasingly feral fans. That’s why this week, we have to be grateful to Chelsea.

It was the headline Chelsea handed transfer ban until 2011 that did it. Disregard a possible appeal by the club against the ban or a close examination of the merits of the case. Just reading that headline provided one of those rare moments where you could shout out loud, Ha! Amid all football’s depressing and predictable headlines, here was a good news story to warm our hearts. FIFA, for once, seemed to be taking a stance that was not only tough and in line with its own statutes, they were taking that stance against Chelsea FC. The team propped up by dubiously earned millions can not, for the next year and a half, spend those millions. Now maybe they’ll develop some players of their own instead of misappropriating them from clubs like RC Lens.

You could call it a fantasy headline. And just as millions of fans now try to hide from the reality of the modern game by playing in virtual leagues (with equally disappointing results), you were left wondering what kind of otherworldly football headline would make your day. Old Firm merger paves way to global unity; Redknapp, dozen journalists to take nuptials; Norwegian side Löv-Ham Fotball to be title of new Philip Roth novel; Chelsea launch Terry’s tears replica doll collection; Forest-Derby rivalry declared too tiresome ever to be mentioned again; Liverpool fan caught walking alone.

Given all the websites out there regurgitating the same headlines you can read at a thousand other outlets, it would only take one to mutate into a genuine fantasy site, where you could mull a parallel utopian football world. Football has long ceased being a weekend escape and become instead a 24-hour leisure business. Until a capital collapse really does swallow up the Big Five and Wimbledon-style fan ownership becomes the norm, we’re going to have to rely on our own imaginations to take any joy from the game. Aside from that, we’re left with the odd burst of schadenfreude. Because, despite the FIFA ban, Chelsea will still most likely be top of the league next May. Unless you can picture the headline: Now for Europe, declares triumphant Pulis. Ian Plenderleith

Comments (11)
Comment by Coxy 2009-09-06 16:51:39

Not good news for me as I'm a Chelsea fan , which is now a so called " Big club" ( who gives a toss whether you are big or not, its your club)
I love WSC but I have always thought since the old days the sense of inverse snobbery it has , Man utd fan not cool, watch Sudbury reserves every week and you are ice cold.
Any action on any club that isn't financial hits the fans more than anyone else because we care more about the club than the Chairman, the owner or most definetly the over paid players, just look at the words of Ken (I love Chelsea ) Bates , pathetic , a fan of the blues could never get in bed with Leeds ,thanks for sending them down though.
Chelsea ,like anyone else have real fans too!! Even Fulham had 2500 loyal fans in the 1980's.

Comment by Toro: Count On It 2009-09-06 22:31:55

Yes, Plenderleith. You have failed to realise that a fat man slipping on a banana peel is not objectively funny if the fat man is Coxy.

Comment by CarsmileSteve 2009-09-06 23:34:07

Yes it must be dreadful to be a Chelsea fan, the poor things... Imagine the pain of having an entire team of full internationals and so many reserves they can send a whole team's worth out on loan and even that they might possibly end up fourth rather than third...

Comment by Max Payne 2009-09-07 08:01:14

Any team that upsets ManUre are alright by me. Wearing your bias on your sleeve there, Mr Plenderleith.

Comment by Coxy 2009-09-07 08:45:15

Toro -
How did you guess I was fat? On a diet now.

Comment by imp 2009-09-07 13:48:59

Max Payne appears to be confusing the American artist Man Ray and the former Manchester United football player Ian Ure. Whether such a ficitious human hybrid would be upset by the existence of Chelsea Football Club must necessarily remain conjectural.

Comment by Analogue Bubblebath 2009-09-08 00:55:43

Unfortunately, this story has happened three or four years too late.

Chelsea have made only three significant signings in the past three transfer windows -- Bosingwa, Deco and Zhirkov.

Of this trio, Deco has been a complete flop (and did not cost megabucks), and Zhirkov has not yet even kicked a ball for them.

It would have been a lot funnier if this had occurred back in 2004, when Mourinho was buying everything that moved, and discarding a large quantity of it almost instantly (Wright-Phillips,, Del Horno, Boulahrouz, Kezman, Jarosik, Tiago et al).

Comment by Max Payne 2009-09-08 06:37:26

Ye may jest, Imp. But i notice with perfect timing that Manchester United have now threatened to drop a lawsuit on Le Havre for opening up a similar can of worms on their doorstep. Should Manchester United - you notice how I don't use the comedy abbreviation this time, so as to be extra clear - suffer the same fate as Chelsea I wonder what your take on that would be?

Oh let me guess? That's different, right?

Comment by George at asda 2009-09-08 11:10:13

Although well before my time, It as been put to me by an older member of the family that describing Ian Ure as a 'football player' is a very generous description of his talents.

Comment by imp 2009-09-08 11:20:13

Max, you seem to be confusing me with someone who gives a rat's arse about Manchester United. Though I'll confess they were my preferred 'big club' back in the days of Ure.

Comment by Isaac Hunt 2010-11-25 01:27:40

It's a tiresome bitter argument that's pretty common these days, and probably an easy article to write to get a load of bandwagoners singing your praises. Chelsea fc has long since been run as a joke, and there are almost countless things that you could write about to really nail the point home - and whinging about Chelsea having an overnight ability to piss money about is the only angle you take.

While I find what abramovich has done way unfair to other clubs, can you tell me of any other clubs that are going to realistically contend for the title and European trophies via an honest means regarding finances. Not going to happen in the modern-money-spoiled game. And is abramovich spending money that he loaned to the club (now debt free) really more immoral than the bates years of spending millions of pounds (that the club didn't have) on overpriced old foreign players who abused their mega-contracts. Chelsea should have gone under and lived well out of their means from the late 90's-2003. Wiithout roman English football could have lost a great club, and yet the common argument is "I didn't use to mind Chelsea pre-Abramovich". If you really detest Chelsea (which is fair enough, I detest a lot of clubs), let's hear a proper argument rather than this rehashed boring, jealousy based argument that 99% of the country has heard from some idiot in the pub or worse, on filth pedalling mediums such as talksport or the sun.

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