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Chelsea FC
Chelsea FC

Chelsea is an English professional football club based in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham in West London.

It features in the Premier League, the highest level of league-football in England. The club recently changed ownership from Russian businessman Roman Abramovich to its new American owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.

Besides being the 4th most successful club of England, Chelsea is among 5 clubs to have won all 3 major UEFA competitions on 2 occasions. Domestically, it has won 6 league-titles, 8 FA Cups and 5 League Cups. It has also picked up 2 European Cups, 2 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, 2 UEFA Cups and 2 UEFA Super Cups along with a FIFA Club World Cup.

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Identity

Since the 1960’s, Chelsea have played its home-games in a full royal-blue strip and so it is often referred to as the Blues. An older nickname is the Pensioners which stems from the image of a Chelsea pensioner on its original crest, the army veterans that reside in Royal Hospital Chelsea. The current emblem features a heraldic lion holding a staff.

Stamford Bridge has remained the home-ground of Chelsea since the club’s inception. The stadium has a capacity of 40,834. The club’s fan-base comes from all over the Greater London area ranging from working-class districts such as Hammersmith and Battersea to wealthier neighbourhoods like Chelsea, Kensington and the local counties.

The supporters of Chelsea have long-standing rivalries with the North London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Also, there is a huge rivalry with Leeds United dating back to some heated tussles in the 1960’s and 70’s. In recent times, it has developed an enmity with Liverpool owing to their recurrent meetings in cup competitions.

History

In 1904, Gus Mears acquired the Stamford Bridge athletics stadium with the intention of turning it into a football ground. When his offer of leasing the stadium was turned down by local side Fulham FC, Mears decided to form his own club. Therefore, on 10th March 1905, Chelsea FC was founded at The Rising Sun pub on Fulham Road.

The Early Decades

Chelsea was elected into the Football League shortly afterwards and began its maiden season in the Second Division in 1905/06. In the following 1906/07 campaign, Chelsea gained its first promotion to the top-tier after ending the season as runners-up of the Second Division.

The Blues began its maiden First Division campaign in 1907/08 and survived the drop after finishing in 13th position. It remained in the top-flight for a couple more years before it was relegated to the 2nd tier at the end of 1909/10 when it ended the season down in 19th position.

In 1911/12, Chelsea finished as runners-up in the Second Division to get back into the top-tier. It remained in the First Division until the advent of World War I which would suspend the Football League for 4 years. Just before that, Chelsea reached its first FA Cup final in 1914/15 where it was beaten 3-0 by Sheffield United.

The Football League resumed after the war in 1919/20 and Chelsea delivered its best campaign after taking 3rd place in the First Division. But the club dropped down the table in the following years and was eventually relegated after ending the 1923/24 season in 21st spot.

Chelsea was unable to gain promotion for a while before it managed to finish as runners-up of the Second Division in 1929/30 and earn a return-pass to the top-tier. The club remained in the First Division for the entire 1930’s until the start of World War II but its best performance of the decade was an 8th place finish in 1935/36.

The Post-War Era

The Football League was halted for 7 years during the war and resumed in 1946/47 with Chelsea finishing the season in 15th position. However, the club could not make any real headway up the standings and remained in the bottom-half of the First Division until the end of the decade.

In 1952, Ted Drake was appointed as the manager and he soon began modernising the club. He removed the pensioner image from the crest, improved the training regimes and youth set-up. He also started rebuilding the side with shrewd signings from the lower leagues and amateur divisions.

Chelsea then went on to pick up its first major silverware by winning the First Division title in 1954/55. It was eligible for the newly created European Champions’ Cup but the Football League persuaded the club to withdraw from the competition. The club failed to build on its success and steadily dropped down the table by the end of the decade.

In 1961/62, Ted Drake was dismissed and Tommy Docherty named as player-manager but Chelsea was relegated from the First Division after ending the campaign at the bottom of the table in 22nd position. But the Blues were able to earn a swift return to the top-flight by finishing as runners-up of the Second Division in 1962/63.

Upon returning to the First Division, the Blues finished the 1963/64 season in 5th place. It moved up to 3rd spot in 1964/65 after clinching the League Cup by beating Leicester City 3-2 on aggregate. It stayed a competitive side until the end of the decade and lifted the FA Cup in 1969/70 with a 2-1 win over Leeds Utd in the replay of the final.

In 1970/71, Chelsea bagged its first continental honour by defeating Spanish giants Real Madrid CF 2-1 at Athens in the replay of the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

Hard Times

The 1970’s turned out to be a difficult time for Chelsea as an ambitious redevelopment of Stamford Bridge left the club in a serious financial crunch. The top players of the club had to be sold and it steadily dropped down the table. The Blues were finally relegated after ending the 1974/75 season in 21st position.

Chelsea spent a couple of seasons in the Second Division before finishing as runners-up in 1976/77 to earn promotion to the top-tier. But it was not able to stay in the First Division for long after ending 1978/79 at the foot of the standings in 22nd position to get relegated yet again.

The Blues remained in the Second Division for the next few years and even came close to dropping down to the 3rd tier in 1982/83. At this point the club was purchased by businessman Ken Bates for a nominal sum of £1. In 1983/84, the club sealed promotion to the top-flight by winning the Second Division title.

Having returned to the First Division in 1984/85, Chelsea finished the season in 6th place and retained the same position in the following campaign. But fortunes dropped quickly for the Blues and it ended 1986/87 in 18th spot before losing out the Second Division playoffs to get relegated once more.

The Contemporary Period

Nevertheless, Chelsea managed to gain an immediate promotion by taking the Second Division title in 1987/88. It then went on to take 5th position in the First Division upon its return to the top-flight in 1988/89, its best league-finish for nearly two decades. The club remained in the top-flight but fell down the table in the next couple of years.

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Gradual Resurgence

In 1992/93, Chelsea was among the founding members of the Premier League which superseded the First Division to become the new top-tier of English football. The Blues made a modest start to the novel league however and ended the inaugural campaign in 14th position.

Chelsea was largely a mid-table side in the early years of the Premier League. The club did manage to reach the FA Cup final in 1994/95 where it was handsomely beaten 0-4 by Manchester United. However, The Blues were gradually able to turn itself into a top team by the end of the 20th century.

At the end of 1996/97, Chelsea finished in 6th spot before beating Middlesbrough 2-0 in the FA Cup final to end a trophy-drought stretching for more than 25 years. In 1997/98, The Blues lifted the League Cup with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the final. It later beat VfB Stuttgart 1-0 to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

The Blues finished the 1998/99 campaign in 3rd position to gain qualification for the UEFA Champions League for the first time. In the 1999/2000 campaign, it reached the quarter-final of the competition before being knocked out by FC Barcelona. Chelsea then lifted the FA Cup again by beating Aston Villa 1-0 in the final.

A Golden Period

Chelsea remained in the top-6 at the turn of the century and collected 4th position in 2002/03 when the club was bought by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. The new owner invested over £100 million on new players and Chelsea finished the 2003/04 campaign as runners-up of the Premier League behind Arsenal.

For the start of 2004/05 season, Jose Mourinho became the new manager and the club spent a load of cash once again. It won the League Cup with a 2-3 extra-time win over Liverpool before losing to them in the UEFA Champions League semi-final. Nevertheless the Blues dominated the Premier League to win its first top-division title in 50 years.

In 2005/06, Chelsea continued its stellar form and comfortably retained the Premier League to become the 5th English team to secure consecutive league-titles in the post-war era. But the team was beaten in the semi-final of the FA Cup by Liverpool to firmly set the rivalry between the two clubs in the following years.

Chelsea broke the bank once again prior to the 2006/07 campaign and went on to win the League Cup with a 2-1 win against Arsenal. The Blues also clinched the FA Cup with a 1-0 extra-time win over Manchester United. However, it lost the EPL title and was beaten by Liverpool in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.

Jose Mourinho vacated his role after a slow start to the 2007/08 campaign with Avram Grant coming in as the temporary replacement. The Blues lost the final of the League Cup before finishing as runners-up in the Premier League. Chelsea also reached its maiden UEFA Champions League final where it lost to Man Utd in a penalty-shootout.

Luiz Felipe Scolari became the next manager but lasted just 8 months before Guus Hiddink took over as the caretaker despite being the coach of the Russian national team at the time. The veteran Dutchman led the Blues to a FA Cup triumph in 2009/10 with a 2-1 win over Everton in the final.

Carlo Ancelotti was named as the new manager in 2010/11 and Chelsea clinched the Premier League title on the final day by a 1-point margin over Man Utd. The Blues then defended the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Portsmouth to complete the double for the first time. But Ancelotti was dismissed after Chelsea ended 2011/12 without a trophy.

Andre Villas Boas was appointed as the next manager but lasted less than a year and his assistant Roberto di Matteo took over on an interim basis. The club gained form and went on to take the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the final. It also picked up its maiden UEFA Champions League by beating Bayern München in its own backyard.

Despite handing di Matteo a permanent contract at the start of 2012/13, the Italian was sacked by November after Chelsea exited the UEFA Champions League at the group-stage. Rafael Benitez replaced him on an interim basis and guided the Blues to the UEFA Europa League with a 1-2 win over Benfica in the final.

Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea for his 2nd spell at the club for the start of 2013/14 and finished in 3rd position of the Premier League. In 2014/15, the Blues picked up the League Cup for the 5th time by beating Tottenham 2-0 in the final before cruising home to take the Premier League title.

Recent Stagnation

However, Chelsea began 2015/16 in dreadful fashion and Mourinho was sacked with the club hovering just above the relegation-zone. Guus Hiddink returned for his 2nd term as the caretaker of the club. The Blues were knocked out in the group-stage of the UEFA Champions League but managed to finish the season in 10th position.

Antonio Conte arrived as the new manager at the start of 2016/17. After a moderate beginning, Chelsea soon gained rampant form and cantered home with the Premier League title. The Blues came close to a double after reaching the FA Cup final but were beaten 1-2 by Arsenal.

Chelsea could not produce the same kind of form in 2017/18 and ended the season in 5th place which meant it did not qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The Blues went on to win the FA Cup courtesy of a 1-0 victory against Man Utd in the final. Nevertheless, Conte was dismissed from his post at the end of the season.

Maurizio Sarri was brought in as the new manager before the beginning of 2018/19. The Blues reached the League Cup final but were beaten by Manchester City in a penalty-shootout. In spite of inconsistent form, Chelsea was able to take 3rd place and seal a return to the UEFA Champions League.

In 2019/20, Sarri left the club to join Juventus and Frank Lamaprd was named as the next manager. During the season that was interrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak, Chelsea finished the league in 4th spot. The Blues reached the FA Cup final but once again lost 1-2 to London rivals Arsenal.

Frank Lampard was fired midway through 2020/21 with the Blues lying in 9th position. Thomas Tuchel arrived as his replacement and the club quickly regained form but lost the FA Cup final to Leicester City. But Chelsea managed to get a 1-0 win over Man City in the UEFA Champions League final to lift the trophy for the 2nd time.

Chelsea spent big money at the start of Premier League season 2021/22 but eventually had to settle for a 3rd spot amidst the uncertainty regarding the ownership change. The Blues went to the League Cup final but lost to Liverpool on penalties after a goalless-draw. The club were later frustrated in the same manner by Liverpool again in the FA Cup final.

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