Football

More problems for Chelsea’s owners as Strasbourg fans make their feelings known again

Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea FC

The problems at Chelsea were exacerbated with a dismal 4-2 defeat at home to Wolves, but that is not the only issue the club’s owners are having to contend with at the moment.

The BlueCo consortium, made up of Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjorg Wyss, are also majority owners of French Ligue 1 side Strasbourg, and while the club’s performances on the pitch might not be anything to panic about, there is a real discontent among the fanbase over the way the club is being run by their new owners.

Strasbourg, who sit tenth in Ligue 1 at present and are managed by former Crystal Palace manager and Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, were on the end of a narrow 2-1 loss to league leaders PSG on Friday, during which a section of their supporters made their feelings about the BlueCo ownership abundantly clear.

A banner held up by fans read: “All our fears about the BlueCo project, confirmed in this transfer window”. The protest came just days after club captain and goalkeeper Matz Sels departed for Nottingham Forest in a £5.5m deal.

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It is not the first protest that has taken place against Boehly and co’s ownership of the club either. “BlueCo aren’t welcome and never will be” was the message from the club’s largest supporters group Ultra Boys 90 back in November.

In September last year, Boehly spoke of his desire to implement a multi-club model including Chelsea. “Red Bull does a really good job at Leipzig and at Salzburg, both of which are playing in the Champions League, so they’ve figured out how to make that work,” Boehly previously said. “You have Man City that has a very big network of clubs.

“I think the challenge that Chelsea has now, or one of them, is that when you have 18, 19, 20-year-old superstars, you can loan them out to other clubs but you put their development in someone else’s hands.”

The frustration among Strasbourg fans stems from their belief that this arrangement is benefiting Chelsea more than themselves. If players owned by Chelsea succeed at Strasbourg, they will likely return to their parent club for an opportunity or be sold elsewhere for a profit. And if they do not succeed, then Strasbourg may fall short of their goals.

Much like Chelsea, Strasbourg’s team is incredibly young. The departure of 31-year-old Sels has lowered the average of the squad even further and the latest Chelsea youngster to head to Strasbourg is 19-year-old midfielder Andrey Santos, who was recalled from his loan at Nottingham Forest following a lack of game time and then subsequently shipped out to Strasbourg for the rest of the season.

Results on the pitch at Strasbourg might have been solid so far this season but off the pitch, the frustration and discontent among the supporters towards the ownership group tells a different story.

It is not just at Stamford Bridge where the BlueCo group are having to deal with anger.

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