The Stamford Bridge Protest – From Ground Zero

‘We want our Chelsea back!’

The powerful message that was chanted by thousands of fans that gathered outside of Stamford Bridge yesterday in protest against, the now scrapped, European Super League proposal.

  • What was all the fuss about?

Chelsea were one of the six English clubs (along with Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool) who announced on twitter late on the 19th April, their plans to breakaway to form a league with other ‘elite’ clubs from around the continent, a decision that they (and the five other clubs) have now reversed following massive backlash from the footballing community.

Immediately, the reaction from fans was one of shock and anger, dismayed by the seemingly unquenchable thirst for money from the owners of these clubs. So great was the greed that they were willing to throw away years of football heritage as well as the trust and support of their own fans.

Amongst the sea of blue outside the bridge yesterday, a single Manchester United fan stood side by side with the Chelsea faithful. Usually, were a rival supporter to stand so boldly amongst enemy lines, the reaction would most likely be not the most welcoming, yet on a day when the match up wasn’t United versus Chelsea, instead Greed versus the people, team alliance seemed irrelevant.

The gate to the players entrance of Stamford Bridge was completely blocked by the thousands of supporters, releasing flares holding aloft signs seething with accusations aimed at the owners of the 12 clubs.

“Is 3 Yachts not Enough Roman?”

“Football Belongs to US not you.”

“We want our cold nights in Stoke.”

The European Super League felt like an insult to the so-called ‘legacy fans’ (as they were described by Florentino Perez, the mastermind behind the project). An attempt to rip the people’s game from the hands of the people in order to fill their own pockets.

Yesterday showed the power of the supporters and why football cannot exist without them. The game so many people adore was threatened and fans of different clubs throughout England and the rest of Europe united immediately to defend it.

  • Keeping things in Cech.

One of the lasting images from the protest came when Chelsea legend Petr Cech addressed the crowd and pleaded for them to allow the team bus through.

“I know, I know! Give us time, let people sort this out.”

Cech is a player that has benefited from the current football pyramid massively, winning 13 trophies a Chelsea player, including four Premier League crowns and an incredible performance in the penalty shootout to win the Champions League in Munich back in 2012.

These moments cannot be bought.

Less than an hour after Cech returned in to the Bridge, news began to filter through that Chelsea were the first club to prepare the documentation to withdraw from the League.

This news was met with jubilation reminiscent of a 90th minute winner and in a time where football fans haven’t been able to show their support in person for their team, it was a moment that brought a smile to the face of everyone there. Finally the cheers of football fans were together again, celebrating the biggest win of the season so far.

As I looked around the protest yesterday afternoon, I didn’t see customers, I saw people who use football as an escape and pour passion into their clubs week in week out.

The Super League isn’t football.

The fans are football.