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Association football club in London
This article is about the men’s football club For the women’s football club, see Chelsea FC Women For other uses, see Chelsea (disambiguation)

Football club
Chelsea
Full name Chelsea Football Club
Nickname(s) The Blues
Founded 10 March 1905; 117 years ago (1905-03-10)
Ground Stamford Bridge
Capacity 40,341
Coordinates 51°28′54″N 0°11′28″W / 5148167°N 019111°W / 5148167; -019111Coordinates: 51°28′54″N 0°11′28″W / 5148167°N 019111°W / 5148167; -019111
Owner BlueCo 22 Limited
Chairman Todd Boehly
Head coach Graham Potter
League Premier League
2021–22 Premier League, 3rd of 20
Website Club website

Home colours

Away colours

Third colours

Current season
Departments of Chelsea
Men’s Football Women’s Football Academy

Chelsea Football Club is an English professional football club based in Fulham, West London Founded in 1905, they play their home games at Stamford Bridge The club competes in the Premier League, the top division of English football They won their first major honour, the League championship, in 1955 The club won the FA Cup for the first time in 1970, their first European honour, the Cup Winners’ Cup, in 1971, and becoming only the third English club to win the Club World Cup in 2022

Chelsea are one of five clubs to have won all three pre-1999 main European club competitions, and the only club to have won all three major European competitions twice They are also the only London club to have won the Champions League and the Club World Cup Domestically, the club has won six league titles, eight FA Cups, five League Cups, and four FA Community Shields Internationally, they have won the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup twice each, and one FIFA Club World Cup since their inception In terms of overall trophies won, it is the fourth-most successful club in English football

The club has rivalries with neighbouring teams Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, and a historic rivalry with Leeds United In terms of club value, Chelsea are the seventh most valuable football club in the world (as of 2021), worth £239 billion ($32 billion), and are the eighth highest-earning football club in the world, with earnings of over €4931 million (as of May 2022)

History

Founding and early years

The first Chelsea team in September 1905

Main article: History of Chelsea FC (1905–1952)

In 1904, Gus Mears acquired the Stamford Bridge athletics stadium in Fulham with the aim of turning it into a football ground An offer to lease it to nearby Fulham FC was turned down, so Mears opted to found his own club to use the stadium As there was already a team named Fulham in the borough, the name of the adjacent borough of Chelsea was chosen for the new club; names like Kensington FC, Stamford Bridge FC and London FC were also considered Chelsea FC was founded on 10 March 1905 at The Rising Sun pub (now The Butcher’s Hook), opposite the present-day main entrance to the ground on Fulham Road, and were elected to the Football League shortly afterwards

Chelsea won promotion to the First Division in their second season, and yo-yoed between the First and Second Divisions in their early years They reached the 1915 FA Cup Final, where they lost to Sheffield United at Old Trafford, and finished third in the First Division in 1920, the club’s best league campaign to that point Chelsea had a reputation for signing star players and attracted large crowds The club had the highest average attendance in English football in ten separate seasons including 1907–08, 1909–10, 1911–12, 1912–13, 1913–14 and 1919–20 They were FA Cup semi-finalists in 1920 and 1932 and remained in the First Division throughout the 1930s, but success eluded the club in the inter-war years

Modernisation and the first league championship

Main article: History of Chelsea FC (1952–1983)

Chart showing the progress of Chelsea’s league finishes from 1906 to the present

Former Arsenal and England centre-forward Ted Drake was appointed manager in 1952 and proceeded to modernise the club He removed the club’s Chelsea pensioner crest, improved the youth set-up and training regime, rebuilt the side with shrewd signings from the lower divisions and amateur leagues, and led Chelsea to their first major trophy success – the League championship – in 1954–55 The following season saw UEFA create the European Champions’ Cup, but after objections from The Football League, Chelsea were persuaded to withdraw from the competition before it started Chelsea failed to build on this success, and spent the remainder of the 1950s in mid-table Drake was dismissed in 1961 and replaced by player-coach Tommy Docherty

Docherty built a new team around the group of talented young players emerging from the club’s youth set-up, and Chelsea challenged for honours throughout the 1960s, enduring several near-misses They were on course for a treble of League, FA Cup and League Cup going into the final stages of the 1964–65 season, winning the League Cup but faltering late on in the other two In three seasons the side were beaten in three major semi-finals and were FA Cup runners-up Under Docherty’s successor, Dave Sexton, Chelsea won the FA Cup in 1970, beating Leeds United 2–1 in a final replay The following year, Chelsea took their first European honour, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup triumph, with another replayed win, this time over Real Madrid in Athens

Redevelopment and financial crisis

Main article: History of Chelsea FC (1983–2003)

The late 1970s through to the ’80s was a turbulent period for Chelsea An ambitious redevelopment of Stamford Bridge threatened the financial stability of the club, star players were sold and the team were relegated Further problems were caused by a notorious hooligan element among the support, which was to plague the club throughout the decade In 1982, Chelsea were, at the nadir of their fortunes, acquired by Ken Bates for the nominal sum of £1, from Mears’ great-nephew Brian Mears for £1 Bates bought a controlling stake in the club and floated Chelsea on the AIM stock exchange in March 1996 although by now the Stamford Bridge freehold had been sold to property developers, meaning the club faced losing their home On the pitch, the team had fared little better, coming close to relegation to the Third Division for the first time, but in 1983 manager John Neal put together an impressive new team for minimal outlay Chelsea won the Second Division title in 1983–84 and established themselves in the top division with two top-six finishes, before being relegated again in 1988 The club bounced back immediately by winning the Second Division championship in 1988–89

After a long-running legal battle, Bates reunited the stadium freehold with the club in 1992 by doing a deal with the banks of the property developers, who had been bankrupted by a market crash In the mid-1990s Chelsea fan and businessman Matthew Harding became a director and loaned the club £26 million to build the new North Stand and invest in new players Chelsea’s form in the new Premier League was unconvincing, although they did reach the 1994 FA Cup Final The appointment of Ruud Gullit as player-manager in 1996 began an upturn in the team’s fortunes He added several top international players to the side and led the club to their first major honour since 1971, the FA Cup Gullit was replaced by Gianluca Vialli, whose reign saw Chelsea win the League Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in 1998, and the FA Cup in 2000 They also mounted a strong title challenge in 1998–99, finishing four points behind champions Manchester United, and made their first appearance in the UEFA Champions League Vialli was sacked in favour of Claudio Ranieri, who guided Chelsea to the 2002 FA Cup Final and Champions League qualification in 2002–03

Abramovich era

Main article: History of Chelsea FC (2003–2022)

—Roman Abramovich, in an interview with the BBC following the takeover

With the club facing an apparent financial crisis, Bates unexpectedly sold Chelsea FC in June 2003 for £60 million In so doing, he reportedly recognised a personal profit of £17 million on the club he had bought for £1 in 1982 (his stake had been diluted to just below 30% over the years) The club’s new owner was Russian oligarch and billionaire Roman Abramovich, who also took on responsibility for the club’s £80 million of debt, quickly paying some of it Sergei Pugachev, a former friend of Vladimir Putin, explained that “Putin personally told me of his plan to acquire the Chelsea Football Club in order to increase his influence and raise Russia’s profile, not only with the elite but with ordinary British people” Abramovich reportedly denied that he was acting under control from the Kremlin

Chelsea players celebrate their first UEFA Champions League title against Bayern Munich (2012)

Over £100 million was spent on new players, but Ranieri was unable to deliver any trophies, and was replaced by José Mourinho Under Mourinho, Chelsea became the fifth English team to win back-to-back league championships since the Second World War (2004–05 and 2005–06), in addition to winning an FA Cup (2007) and two League Cups (2005 and 2007) After a poor start to the 2007–2008 season, Mourinho was replaced by Avram Grant, who led the club to their first UEFA Champions League final, which they lost on penalties to Manchester United The club did not turn a profit in the first nine years of Abramovich’s ownership, and made record losses of £140m in June 2005

—Abramovich discussing two trophy-laden years at Chelsea (2006)

In 2009, under caretaker manager Guus Hiddink, Chelsea won another FA Cup In 2009–10, his successor Carlo Ancelotti led them to their first Premier League and FA Cup Double, also becoming the first English top-flight club to score 100 league goals in a season since 1963 In 2012, Roberto Di Matteo led Chelsea to their seventh FA Cup, and their first UEFA Champions League title, beating Bayern Munich 4–3 on penalties, the first London club to win the trophy The following year the club won the UEFA Europa League, making them the first club to hold two major European titles simultaneously and one of five clubs to have won the three main UEFA trophies Mourinho returned as manager in 2013 and led Chelsea to League Cup success in March 2015, and the Premier League title two months later Mourinho was sacked after four months of the following season after a poor start

In November 2012, Chelsea announced a profit of £14 million for the year ending 30 June 2012, the first time the club had made a profit under Abramovich’s ownership This was followed by a loss in 2013 and then their highest ever profit of £184 million for the year to June 2014 In 2018 Chelsea announced a record after-tax profit of £62 million

In 2017, under new coach Antonio Conte, Chelsea won their sixth English title and the following season won their eighth FA Cup In 2018 Conte was sacked after a 5th-place finish and replaced with Maurizio Sarri, under whom Chelsea reached the League Cup final, which they lost on penalties to Manchester City and won the Europa League for a second time, beating Arsenal 4–1 in the final Sarri then left the club to become manager of Juventus and was then replaced by former Chelsea player Frank Lampard

In Lampard’s first season he guided Chelsea to 4th place in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup final, losing 2–1 to Arsenal Lampard was dismissed in January 2021 and replaced with Thomas Tuchel

Players of Chelsea celebrating their first FIFA Club World Cup title (2021) after beating Brazilian Palmeiras in the final

Under Tuchel, Chelsea reached the FA Cup final, losing 1–0 to Leicester City, and won their second UEFA Champions League title with a 1–0 win over Manchester City in Porto The club subsequently won the 2021 UEFA Super Cup for the second time by defeating Villarreal 6–5 in a penalty shootout, after it had ended 1–1 in Belfast after extra time, and the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup (the first for the club) in Abu Dhabi after beating Brazilian Palmeiras 2–1

On 18 April 2021, Chelsea announced they would be joining a new European Super League, a league competition comprising the biggest European clubs After a backlash from supporters, the club announced their withdrawal days later

Former Chelsea player Tony Cascarino revealed that the club had been calling ex-players to check up on their health during the COVID-19 pandemic The club opted against furloughing their non-matchday staff with the decision reportedly coming from Abramovich himself Chelsea, one of the first clubs to help the National Health Service, lent the club-owned Millenium Hotel for the NHS staff

—Gary Neville on Abramovich’s legacy

Amidst financial sanctions leveled at Russian oligarchs by Western governments in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich stated on 26 February that he would hand over the stewardship of Chelsea to the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation The trustees did not immediately agree, due to legal concerns regarding the rules of the Charity Commission for England and Wales A week later, Abramovich wrote-off the £15 billion the club owed him, and put the club up for sale, pledging to donate net proceeds from it to the victims of the war in Ukraine

On 10 March 2022, the British government announced sanctions on Abramovich with Chelsea allowed to operate under a special license until 31 May In the following weeks, reports emerged of Abramovich’s involvement in brokering a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia and securing safe evacuation corridors in besieged Ukrainian cities An American government official revealed that the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy had requested the US government to not levy sanctions at Abramovich given his importance in war relief efforts

Boehly–Clearlake era

Main article: History of Chelsea FC (2022–present)

On 7 May 2022, Chelsea confirmed that terms have been agreed for a new ownership group, led by Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjörg Wyss, to acquire the club On 25 May 2022, the government has approved the £425bn Boehly-led consortium takeover of Chelsea On 30 May 2022, the sale was completed, ending Abramovich’s 19 year ownership of the club

The consortium led by Todd Boehly, chairman and CEO of Eldridge Industries, and Clearlake Capital, announced completion of the ownership transfer of Chelsea on the 30 May 2022 The consortium also includes Hansjörg Wyss, founder of the Wyss Foundation, and Mark Walter, co-founder and CEO of Guggenheim Partners Walter and Boehly are owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Los Angeles Sparks The transaction has received all necessary approvals from The Governments of the United Kingdom and Portugal, The Premier League, and other authorities was mentioned by the club in their statement

The club then announced on 20 June that Bruce Buck, who served as Chairman since 2003, will be stepping down from his role effective 30 June although he would continue to support the Club as a Senior Advisor Boehly would assume the chairmanship This was followed by the club restructuring the board and announcing the departure of long serving Club Director and de-facto Sporting Director Marina Granovskaia on 22 June Petr Čech left the role of Technical and Performance Advisor 5 days later

League history

  • 1905–1907 Division 2 (L2)
  • 1907–1910 Division 1 (L1)
  • 1910–1912 Division 2 (L2)
  • 1912–1924 Division 1 (L1)
  • 1924–1930 Division 2 (L2)
  • 1930–1962 Division 1 (L1)
  • 1962–1963 Division 2 (L2)
  • 1963–1975 Division 1 (L1)
  • 1975–1977 Division 2 (L2)
  • 1977–1979 Division 1 (L1)
  • 1979–1984 Division 2 (L2)
  • 1984–1988 Division 1 (L1)
  • 1988–1989 Division 2 (L2)
  • 1989–1992 Division 1 (L1)
  • 1992– Premier League (L1)
L1 = Level 1 of the football league system; L2 = Level 2 of the football league system

Stadium

Main article: Stamford Bridge (stadium)

Stamford Bridge, West Stand

Chelsea have only had one home ground, Stamford Bridge, where they have played since the team’s foundation The stadium was officially opened on 28 April 1877 and for the next 28 years it was used by the London Athletic Club as an arena for athletics meetings In 1904 the ground was acquired by businessman Gus Mears and his brother Joseph, who had also purchased nearby land (formerly a large market garden) with the aim of staging football matches on the now 125 acre (51,000 m) site Stamford Bridge was designed for the Mears family by the noted football architect Archibald Leitch, who had also designed Ibrox, Craven Cottage and Hampden Park Most football clubs were founded first, and then sought grounds in which to play, but Chelsea were founded for Stamford Bridge

Starting with an open bowl-like design and one grandstand with seating, Stamford Bridge had an original capacity of around 100,000, making it the second biggest stadium in England after Crystal Palace The early 1930s saw the construction of a terrace on the southern part of the ground with a roof that covered around one fifth of the stand As the roof resembled that of a corrugated iron shed, the stand eventually became known as the “Shed End”, although it is unknown who first coined this name From the 1960s, it became known as the home of Chelsea’s most loyal and vocal supporters In 1939, another small seated stand was added, the North Stand, which remained until its demolition in 1975

In the early 1970s, the club’s owners announced a modernisation of Stamford Bridge with plans for a state-of-the-art 50,000 all-seater stadium Work began in 1972 but the project was beset with problems and ultimately only the East Stand was completed; the cost brought the club close to bankruptcy The freehold was sold to property developers and the club were under threat of eviction from the stadium Following a long legal battle, it was not until the mid-1990s that Chelsea’s future at Stamford Bridge was secured and renovation work resumed The north, west and southern parts of the ground were converted into all-seater stands and moved closer to the pitch, a process completed by 2001 The East Stand was retained from the 1970s development In 1996, the north stand was renamed the Matthew Harding stand, after the club director and benefactor who was killed in a helicopter crash earlier that year

Chelsea vs West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge on 23 September 1905; Chelsea won 1–0

When Stamford Bridge was redeveloped in the Bates era many additional features were added to the complex including two Millennium & Copthorne hotels, apartments, bars, restaurants, the Chelsea Megastore, and an interactive visitor attraction called Chelsea World of Sport The intention was that these facilities would provide extra revenue to support the football side of the business, but they were less successful than hoped and before the Abramovich takeover in 2003 the debt taken on to finance them was a major burden on the club Soon after the takeover a decision was taken to drop the “Chelsea Village” brand and refocus on Chelsea as a football club However, the stadium is sometimes still referred to as part of “Chelsea Village” or “The Village”

The Stamford Bridge freehold, the pitch, the turnstiles and Chelsea’s naming rights are now owned by Chelsea Pitch Owners, a non-profit organisation in which fans are the shareholders The CPO was created to ensure the stadium could never again be sold to developers As a condition for using the Chelsea FC name, the club has to play its first team matches at Stamford Bridge, which means that if the club moves to a new stadium, they may have to change their name Chelsea’s training ground is located in Cobham, Surrey Chelsea moved to Cobham in 2004 Their previous training ground in Harlington was taken over by QPR in 2005 The new training facilities in Cobham were completed in 2007

Aerial view of present-day Stamford Bridge

Stamford Bridge hosted the FA Cup Final from 1920 to 1922, has held ten FA Cup Semi-finals (most recently in 1978), ten FA Charity Shield matches (the last in 1970), and three England international matches, the last in 1932; it was also the venue for an unofficial Victory International in 1946 The 2013 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final was played at Stamford Bridge as well The stadium has also been used for a variety of other sports In October 1905 it hosted a rugby union match between the All Blacks and Middlesex, and in 1914 hosted a baseball match between the touring New York Giants and the Chicago White Sox It was the venue for a boxing match between world flyweight champion Jimmy Wilde and Joe Conn in 1918 The running track was used for dirt track racing between 1928 and 1932, greyhound racing from 1933 to 1968, and Midget car racing in 1948 In 1980, Stamford Bridge hosted the first international floodlit cricket match in the UK, between Essex and the West Indies It was also the home stadium of the London Monarchs American Football team for the 1997 season

The previous owner Mr Abramovich and the clubs then executive board determined that a larger stadium is necessary in order for Chelsea to stay competitive with rival clubs who have significantly larger stadia, such as Arsenal and Manchester United Owing to its location next to a main road and two railway lines, fans can only enter Stamford Bridge via the Fulham Road exits, which places constraints on expansion due to health and safety regulations The club have consistently affirmed their desire to keep Chelsea at their current home, but have nonetheless been linked with a move to various nearby sites, including the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Battersea Power Station and the Chelsea Barracks In October 2011, a proposal from the club to buy back the freehold to the land on which Stamford Bridge sits was voted down by Chelsea Pitch Owners shareholders In May 2012, the club made a formal bid to purchase Battersea Power Station, with a view to developing the site into a new stadium, but lost out to a Malaysian consortium The club subsequently announced plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge into a 60,000-seater stadium, and in January 2017 these plans were approved by Hammersmith and Fulham council However, on 31 May 2018, the club released a statement saying that the new stadium project had been put on hold indefinitely, citing “the current unfavourable investment climate”

In July 2022, it was reported that the club’s new owner Todd Boehly had appointed American architect Janet Marie Smith to oversee the renovation of the stadium

Identity

Crest

Chelsea have had four main crests, which all underwent minor variations The first, adopted when the club was founded, was the image of a Chelsea Pensioner, the army veterans who reside at the nearby Royal Hospital Chelsea This contributed to the club’s original “pensioner” nickname, and remained for the next half-century, though it never appeared on the shirts When Ted Drake became Chelsea manager in 1952, he began to modernise the club Believing the Chelsea pensioner crest to be old-fashioned, he insisted that it be replaced A stop-gap badge which comprised the initials CFC was adopted for a year In 1953, the club crest was changed to an upright blue lion looking backwards and holding a staff It was based on elements in the coat of arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea with the “lion rampant regardant” taken from the arms of then club president Viscount Chelsea and the staff from the Abbots of Westminster, former Lords of the Manor of Chelsea It also featured three red roses, to represent England, and two footballs This was the first Chelsea crest to appear on the shirts, in the early 1960s In 1975, a heraldic badge was granted by the College of Arms to the English Football League for use by Chelsea The badge took the form of the familiar lion and staff encircled by a blue ring but without lettering and without the red roses and red footballs (blazoned as “A lion rampant reguardant azure supporting with the forepaws a crozier or all within an annulet azure“)

In 1986, with Ken Bates now owner of the club, Chelsea’s crest was changed again as part of another attempt to modernise and because the old rampant lion badge could not be trademarked The new badge featured a more naturalistic non-heraldic lion, in white and not blue, standing over the CFC initials This lasted for the next 19 years, with some modifications such as the use of different colours, including red from 1987 to 1995, and yellow from 1995 until 1999, before the white returned With the new ownership of Roman Abramovich, and the club’s centenary approaching, combined with demands from fans for the popular 1950s badge to be restored, it was decided that the crest should be changed again in 2005 The new crest was officially adopted for the start of the 2005–06 season and marked a return to the older design, used from 1953 to 1986, featuring a blue heraldic lion holding a staff For the centenary season this was accompanied by the words ‘100 YEARS’ and ‘CENTENARY 2005–2006’ on the top and bottom of the crest respectively

Colours

Chelsea’s first home colours (1905 – c 1912)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chelsea FC kits

Chelsea have always worn blue shirts, although they originally used the paler eton blue, which was taken from the racing colours of then club president, Earl Cadogan, and was worn with white shorts and dark blue or black socks The light blue shirts were replaced by a royal blue version in around 1912 In the 1960s Chelsea manager Tommy Docherty changed the kit again, switching to blue shorts (which have remained ever since) and white socks, believing it made the club’s colours more modern and distinctive, since no other major side used that combination; this kit was first worn during the 1964–65 season Since then Chelsea have always worn white socks with their home kit apart from a short spell from 1985 to 1992, when blue socks were reintroduced

Chelsea’s away colours are usually all yellow or all white with blue trim More recently, the club have had a number of black or dark blue away kits which alternate every year As with most teams, they have also had some more unusual ones At Docherty’s behest, in the 1966 FA Cup semi-final they wore blue and black stripes, based on Inter Milan’s kit In the mid-1970s, the away strip was a red, white and green kit inspired by the Hungarian national side of the 1950s Other away kits include an all jade strip worn from 1986 to 1989, red and white diamonds from 1990 to 1992, graphite and tangerine from 1994 to 1996, and luminous yellow from 2007 to 2008 The graphite and tangerine strip has appeared in lists of the worst football kits ever

Songs and Fan chants

The song “Blue is the Colour” was released as a single in the build-up to the 1972 League Cup Final, with all members of Chelsea’s first team squad singing; it reached number five in the UK Singles Chart The song has since been adopted by a number of other sports teams around the world, including the Vancouver Whitecaps (as “White is the Colour”) and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (as “Green is the Colour”)

Chelsea released the song “No One Can Stop Us Now” in 1994 for reaching the 1994 FA Cup Final It reached number 23 in the UK Singles Chart In the build-up to the 1997 FA Cup Final, the song “Blue Day”, performed by Suggs and members of the Chelsea squad, reached number 22 in the UK charts In 2000, Chelsea released the song “Blue Tomorrow” It reached number 22 in the UK Singles Chart

At matches, Chelsea fans sing chants such as “Carefree” (to the tune of “Lord of the Dance”, whose lyrics were probably written by supporter Mick Greenaway), “Ten Men Went to Mow”, “We All Follow the Chelsea” (to the tune of “Land of Hope and Glory”), “Zigga Zagga”, and the celebratory “Celery” The latter is often accompanied by fans throwing celery at each other, although the vegetable was banned inside Stamford Bridge after an incident involving midfielder Cesc Fàbregas at the 2007 League Cup Final Popular Fanchants include, “Super Chelsea”, “Super Frank” (dedicated to all time leading goal scorer Frank Lampard), “We love you Chelsea” and “Come on Chelsea” There also some situation specific or team specific cheats meant to rile up option teams, managers or players

Support

Chelsea fans at a match against Tottenham Hotspur, on 11 March 2006

Chelsea are among the most widely supported football clubs in the world They have the sixth highest average attendance in the history of English football, and regularly attract over 40,000 fans to Stamford Bridge; they were the seventh best-supported Premier League team in the 2013–14 season, with an average gate of 41,572 Chelsea’s traditional fanbase comes from all over the Greater London area including working-class parts such as Hammersmith and Battersea, wealthier areas like Chelsea and Kensington, and from the home counties There are also numerous official supporters clubs in the United Kingdom and all over the world Between 2007 and 2012, Chelsea were ranked fourth worldwide in annual replica kit sales, with an average of 910,000 As of 2018, Chelsea had 722 million followers on social media, the fourth highest among football clubs

During the 1970s and 1980s in particular, Chelsea supporters were associated with football hooliganism The club’s “football firm”, originally known as the Chelsea Shed Boys, and subsequently as the Chelsea Headhunters, were nationally notorious for football violence, alongside hooligan firms from other clubs such as West Ham United’s Inter City Firm and Millwall’s Bushwackers, before, during and after matches The increase of hooligan incidents in the 1980s led chairman Ken Bates to propose erecting an electric fence to deter them from invading the pitch, a proposal that the Greater London Council rejected

Since the 1990s, there has been a marked decline in crowd trouble at matches, as a result of stricter policing, CCTV in grounds and the advent of all-seater stadia In 2007, the club launched the Back to the Shed campaign to improve the atmosphere at home matches, with notable success According to Home Office statistics, 126 Chelsea fans were arrested for football-related offences during the 2009–10 season, the third highest in the division, and 27 banning orders were issued, the fifth-highest in the division

Rivalries

Main articles: Arsenal FC–Chelsea FC rivalry, Chelsea FC–Tottenham Hotspur FC rivalry, West London derbies, and Chelsea FC–Leeds United FC rivalry

Chelsea have long-standing rivalries with North London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur A strong rivalry with Leeds United dates back to several heated and controversial matches in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly the 1970 FA Cup Final More recently a rivalry with Liverpool has grown following repeated clashes in cup competitions Chelsea’s fellow West London sides Brentford, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers are not considered major rivals, as matches have only taken place intermittently due to the clubs often being in separate divisions

A 2004 survey by Planetfootballcom found that Chelsea fans consider their main rivalries to be with (in descending order): Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United In the same survey, fans of Arsenal, Fulham, Leeds United, QPR, Tottenham, and West Ham United named Chelsea as one of their three main rivals In a 2008 poll conducted by the Football Fans Census, Chelsea fans named Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United as their most disliked clubs In the same survey, “Chelsea” was the top answer to the question “Which other English club do you dislike the most” A 2012 survey, conducted among 1,200 supporters of the top four league divisions across the country, found that many clubs’ main rivals had changed since 2003 and reported that Chelsea fans consider Tottenham to be their main rivals, above Arsenal and Manchester United Additionally, fans of Arsenal, Brentford, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester United, QPR, Tottenham and West Ham identified Chelsea as one of their top three rivals

Records

Further information: List of Chelsea FC records and statistics

Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s all-time highest goalscorer

Chelsea’s highest appearance-maker is ex-captain Ron Harris, who played in 795 competitive games for the club between 1961 and 1980 Four other players made more than 500 appearances for the club: Peter Bonetti (729; 1959–79), John Terry (717; 1998–2017), Frank Lampard (648; 2001–2014) and John Hollins (592; 1963–1975 and 1983–1984) With 103 caps (101 while at the club) for England, Lampard is Chelsea’s most capped international player Every starting player in Chelsea’s 57 games of the 2013–14 season was a full international – a new club record

Lampard is Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer, having scored 211 goals in 648 games (2001–2014); he passed Bobby Tambling’s longstanding record of 202 in May 2013 Eight other players have also scored over 100 goals for Chelsea: George Hilsdon (1906–1912), George Mills (1929–1939), Roy Bentley (1948–1956), Jimmy Greaves (1957–1961), Peter Osgood (1964–1974 and 1978–1979), Kerry Dixon (1983–1992), Didier Drogba (2004–2012 and 2014–2015), and Eden Hazard (2012–2019) Greaves holds the club record for the most goals scored in one season (43 in 1960–61) While a Chelsea player, Greaves also became the youngest ever player to score 100 goals in the English top-flight, at 20 years and 290 days

Chelsea’s biggest winning scoreline in a competitive match is 13–0, achieved against Jeunesse Hautcharage in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 The club’s biggest top-flight win was an 8–0 victory against Wigan Athletic in 2010, which was matched in 2012 against Aston Villa Chelsea’s biggest loss was an 8–1 reverse against Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1953 The club’s 21–0 aggregate victory over Jeunesse Hautcharage in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 is also a record in European competition Officially, Chelsea’s highest home attendance is 82,905 for a First Division match against Arsenal on 12 October 1935 However, an estimated crowd of over 100,000 attended a friendly match against Soviet team Dynamo Moscow on 13 November 1945

In January 2011 Chelsea broke the British transfer record to sign Fernando Torres for £50 million; the record stood until 2014

From 20 March 2004 to 26 October 2008, Chelsea went a record 86 consecutive league matches at home without defeat, beating the previous record of 63 matches unbeaten set by Liverpool between 1978 and 1980 Chelsea hold the English record for the fewest goals conceded during a league season (15), the highest number of clean sheets overall in a Premier League season (25) (both set during the 2004–05 season), and the most consecutive clean sheets from the start of a league season (6, set during the 2005–06 season) Chelsea’s streak of eleven consecutive away league wins, set between 5 April 2008 and 6 December 2008, is a record for the English top flight Chelsea are the only Premier League side to win their opening nine league games of the season, doing so in 2005–06 From 2009 to 2013, Chelsea were unbeaten in a record 29 consecutive FA Cup matches (excluding penalty shoot-outs)

On 25 August 1928, Chelsea, along with Arsenal, became the first club to play with shirt numbers, in their match against Swansea Town They were the first English side to travel by aeroplane to a domestic away match, when they visited Newcastle United on 19 April 1957, and the first First Division side to play a match on a Sunday, when they faced Stoke City on 27 January 1974 On 26 December 1999, Chelsea became the first British side to field an entirely foreign starting line-up (no British or Irish players) in a Premier League match against Southampton In May 2007, Chelsea were the first team to win the FA Cup at the new Wembley Stadium, having also been the last to win it at the old Wembley They were the first English club to be ranked No 1 under UEFA’s five-year coefficient system in the 21st century They were the first Premier League team, and the first team in the English top flight since 1962–63, to score at least 100 goals in a single season, reaching the milestone during the 2009–10 season Chelsea are the only London club to win the UEFA Champions League Upon winning the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League, Chelsea became the first English club to win all four UEFA club trophies and the only club to hold the Champions League and the Europa League at the same time

Chelsea have twice broken the record for the highest transfer fee paid by a British club Their £308 million purchase of Andriy Shevchenko from AC Milan in June 2006 was a British record until surpassed by the £325 million paid by Manchester City for Robinho in September 2008 The club’s £50 million purchase of Fernando Torres from Liverpool in January 2011 held the record until Ángel Di María signed for Manchester United in August 2014 for £597 million The club’s £71 million purchase of Kepa Arrizabalaga in August 2018 remains a world record fee paid for a goalkeeper

On the 12 February 2022, Chelsea became the first London club to win FIFA Club World Cup against Palmeiras with Kai Havertz scoring a late penalty

Ownership and finances

Todd Boehly, one of the co-owners of Chelsea

Chelsea Football Club were founded by Gus Mears in 1905 After his death in 1912, his descendants continued to own the club until 1982, when Ken Bates bought the club from Mears’ great-nephew Brian Mears for £1 Bates bought a controlling stake in the club and floated Chelsea on the AIM stock exchange in March 1996 In the mid-1990s Chelsea fan and businessman Matthew Harding became a director and loaned the club £26 million to build the new North Stand and invest in new players

In July 2003, Roman Abramovich purchased just over 50% of Chelsea Village plc’s share capital, including Bates’ 295% stake, for £30 million and over the following weeks bought out most of the remaining 12,000 shareholders at 35 pence per share, completing a £140 million takeover Other shareholders at the time of the takeover included the Matthew Harding estate (21%), BSkyB (99%) and various anonymous offshore trusts

At the time of the Abramovich takeover, the club also had debts of around £100 million, which included a ten-year £75 million Eurobond taken out in 1997 by the Bates regime to buy the freehold of Stamford Bridge and finance the redevelopment of the stadium The 9% interest on the loan cost the club around £7 million a year and according to Bruce Buck, Chelsea were struggling to pay an instalment due in July 2003 Abramovich paid off some of that debt immediately, but the outstanding £36 million on the Eurobond was not fully repaid until 2008 Since then, the club had no external debt

Abramovich changed the ownership name to Chelsea FC plc, whose ultimate parent company was Fordstam Limited, which was controlled by him Chelsea were additionally funded by Abramovich via interest free soft loans channelled through his holding company Fordstam Limited The loans stood at £709 million in December 2009, when they were all converted to equity by Abramovich, leaving the club themselves debt free, although the debt remained with Fordstam

Chelsea did not turn a profit in the first nine years of Abramovich’s ownership, and made record losses of £140m in June 2005 In November 2012, Chelsea announced a profit of £14 million for the year ending 30 June 2012, the first time the club had made a profit under Abramovich’s ownership This was followed by a loss in 2013 and then their highest ever profit of £184 million for the year to June 2014 In 2018 Chelsea announced a record after-tax profit of £62 million

Chelsea have been described as a global brand; a 2012 report by Brand Finance ranked Chelsea fifth among football brands and valued the club’s brand value at US$398 million – an increase of 27% from the previous year, also valuing them at US$10 million more than the sixth best brand, London rivals Arsenal – and gave the brand a strength rating of AA (very strong) In 2016, Forbes magazine ranked Chelsea the seventh most valuable football club in the world, at £115 billion ($166 billion) As of 2016, Chelsea are ranked eighth in the Deloitte Football Money League with an annual commercial revenue of £32259 million

As of May 2022, Chelsea are still ranked at the 8th according to Forbes While also being ranked 8th by Deloitte, with an annual commercial revenue of €4931 million

The club’s recent accounting records highlight £266m they have lost in compensation to former head coach Antonio Conte for sacking and to pay off his backroom staff and the legal costs that followed

On 26 February 2022, during the Russo-Ukrainian War, Abramovich handed over “stewardship and care” of Chelsea FC to the Chelsea Charitable Foundation Abramovich released an official statement on 2 March 2022 confirming that he is selling the club due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine Although the UK government froze Abramovich’s assets in United Kingdom on 10 March due to his “close ties with Kremlin”, it was made clear that the Chelsea club will be allowed to operate in terms of activities which are football related On 12 March, the Premier League disqualified Abramovich as a director of Chelsea Football Club

On 19 March 2022, there were five confirmed bids to acquire Chelsea FC: submitted to Raine Capital who were handling the sale of the club Some of these were a consortium led by ex-Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton, a group of investors led by the Ricketts family (among them Joe and Pete Ricketts), Swiss and American businessmans Hansjörg Wyss and Todd Boehly, Aethel Partners headed by Portuguese Ricardo Santos Silva and British multi-millionaire businessman Nick Candy, supported by former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli

On 7 May, the club finally confirmed that “terms have been agreed” for a new ownership group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital On 30 May, it was confirmed that a consortium led by Boehly and Clearlake Capital have completed the purchase of the club The consortium also includes Wyss and Mark Walter as well Walter and Boehly are also owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Los Angeles Sparks The transaction had received all necessary approvals from The Governments of the United Kingdom and Portugal, The Premier League, and other authorities

Sponsorship

Chelsea’s kit has been manufactured by Nike since July 2017 Previously, the kit was manufactured by Adidas, which was originally contracted to supply the club’s kit from 2006 to 2018 The partnership was extended in October 2010 in a deal worth £160 million over eight years This deal was again extended in June 2013 in a deal worth £300 million over another ten years In May 2016, Adidas announced that by mutual agreement, the kit sponsorship would end six years early on 30 June 2017 Chelsea had to pay £40m in compensation to Adidas In October 2016, Nike was announced as the new kit sponsor, in a deal worth £900m over 15 years, until 2032 Previously, the kit was manufactured by Umbro (1975–81), Le Coq Sportif (1981–86), The Chelsea Collection (1986–87), Umbro (1987–2006), and Adidas (2006–2017)

Chelsea’s first shirt sponsor was Gulf Air, agreed during the 1983–84 season The club were then sponsored by Grange Farms, Bai Lin Tea and Simod before a long-term deal was signed with Commodore International in 1989; Amiga, an offshoot of Commodore, also appeared on the shirts Chelsea were subsequently sponsored by Coors beer (1994–97), Autoglass (1997–2001), Emirates (2001–05), Samsung Mobile (2005–08), Samsung (2008–15) and Yokohama Tyres (2015–20) From July 2020, Chelsea’s sponsor was Three, however they temporarily suspended their sponsorship in March 2022 in response to sanctions leveled by the UK Government against Abramovich But restored their sponsorship after the change of ownership of the club

Following the introduction of sleeve sponsors in the Premier League, Chelsea had Alliance Tyres as their first sleeve sponsor in the 2017–18 season Followed by Hyundai Motor Company in 2018-19 season Starting in 2022-23 season, Amber Group became the new sleeve sponsor, with the flagship digital asset platform WhaleFin appearing on the kit’s sleeves of both men’s and women’s teams

The club also has a variety of other sponsors and official partners, which include Cadbury, EA Sports, GO Markets, Hublot, Levy Restaurants, MSC Cruises, Parimatch, Singha, Trivago, and Zapp

Kit suppliers and shirt sponsors

Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor (chest) Shirt sponsor (sleeve)
1975–1981 Umbro
1981–1983 Le Coq Sportif
1983–1984 Gulf Air
1984–1986
1986–1987 Bai Lin Tea / Simod
1987–1993 Umbro Commodore
1993–1994 Amiga
1994–1997 Coors
1997–2001 Autoglass
2001–2005 Emirates
2005–2006 Samsung
2006–2015 Adidas
2015–2017 Yokohama Tyres
2017–2018 Nike Alliance Tire Company
2018–2020 Hyundai
2020–2022 Three
2022– WhaleFin

Popular culture

Chelsea parade through the streets of Fulham and Chelsea after winning their league and cup double, May 2010

In 1930, Chelsea featured in one of the earliest football films, The Great Game One-time Chelsea centre forward, Jack Cock, who by then was playing for Millwall, was the star of the film and several scenes were shot at Stamford Bridge, including on the pitch, the boardroom, and the dressing rooms It included guest appearances by then-Chelsea players Andrew Wilson, George Mills, and Sam Millington Owing to the notoriety of the Chelsea Headhunters, a football firm associated with the club, Chelsea have also featured in films about football hooliganism, including 2004’s The Football Factory Chelsea also appear in the Hindi film Jhoom Barabar Jhoom In April 2011, Montenegrin comedy series Nijesmo mi od juče made an episode in which Chelsea play against FK Sutjeska Nikšić for qualification of the UEFA Champions League

Up until the 1950s, the club had a long-running association with the music halls; their underachievement often provided material for comedians such as George Robey It culminated in comedian Norman Long’s release of a comic song in 1933, ironically titled “On the Day That Chelsea Went and Won the Cup”, the lyrics of which describe a series of bizarre and improbable occurrences on the hypothetical day when Chelsea finally won a trophy In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film The 39 Steps, Mr Memory claims that Chelsea last won the Cup in 63 BC, “in the presence of the Emperor Nero” Scenes in a 1980 episode of Minder were filmed during a real match at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Preston North End with Terry McCann (played by Dennis Waterman) standing on the terraces

Players

First-team squad

As of 2 September 2022

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality

No Pos Nation Player
1 GK  ESP Kepa Arrizabalaga
5 MF  ITA Jorginho (vice-captain)
6 DF  BRA Thiago Silva
7 MF  FRA N’Golo Kanté
8 MF  CRO Mateo Kovačić
9 FW  GAB Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
10 FW  USA Christian Pulisic
12 MF  ENG Ruben Loftus-Cheek
13 GK  ENG Marcus Bettinelli
14 DF  ENG Trevoh Chalobah
16 GK  SEN Édouard Mendy
17 FW  ENG Raheem Sterling
18 FW  ALB Armando Broja
No Pos Nation Player
19 MF  ENG Mason Mount
20 MF  SUI Denis Zakaria (on loan from Juventus)
21 DF  ENG Ben Chilwell
22 FW  MAR Hakim Ziyech
23 MF  ENG Conor Gallagher
24 DF  ENG Reece James
26 DF  SEN Kalidou Koulibaly
28 DF  ESP César Azpilicueta (captain)
29 FW  GER Kai Havertz
30 MF  ENG Carney Chukwuemeka
32 DF  ESP Marc Cucurella
33 DF  FRA Wesley Fofana

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality

No Pos Nation Player
GK  ENG Nathan Baxter (at Hull City until 30 June 2023)
GK  FIN Lucas Bergström (at Peterborough United until 30 June 2023)
GK  ENG Jamie Cumming (at Milton Keynes Dons until 30 June 2023)
GK  USA Gabriel Slonina (at Chicago Fire until 31 December 2022)
GK  USA Ethan Wady (at Woking until 30 June 2023)
DF  WAL Ethan Ampadu (at Spezia until 30 June 2023)
DF  ENG Levi Colwill (at Brighton & Hove Albion until 30 June 2023)
DF  ENG Henry Lawrence (at Milton Keynes Dons until 30 June 2023)
DF  NED Ian Maatsen (at Burnley until 30 June 2023)
DF  NIR Sam McClelland (at Barrow until 30 June 2023)
DF  GHA Baba Rahman (at Reading until 30 June 2023)
No Pos Nation Player
DF  FRA Malang Sarr (at Monaco until 30 June 2023)
DF  ENG Dujon Sterling (at Stoke City until 30 June 2023)
MF  ENG Tino Anjorin (at Huddersfield Town until 30 June 2023)
MF  FRA Tiémoué Bakayoko (at AC Milan until 30 June 2023)
MF  ENG Joe Haigh (at Derby County until January 2023)
MF  ENG Xavier Simons (at Hull City until 30 June 2023)
MF  ENG Harvey Vale (at Hull City until 30 June 2023)
FW  NOR Bryan Fiabema (at Forest Green Rovers until 30 June 2023)
FW  ENG Callum Hudson-Odoi (at Bayer Leverkusen until 30 June 2023)
FW  BEL Romelu Lukaku (at Inter Milan until 30 June 2023)
FW  ENG Jayden Wareham (at Leyton Orient until 30 June 2023)

Development Squad and Academy

Main article: Chelsea FC Development Squad and Academy

List of Development Squad and Academy players with first team appearances

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality

No Pos Nation Player
61 FW  ENG Jude Soonsup-Bell
No Pos Nation Player
67 MF  ENG Lewis Hall

Player of the Year

Year Winner
1967 Peter Bonetti
1968 Charlie Cooke
1969 David Webb
1970 John Hollins
1971 John Hollins
1972 David Webb
1973 Peter Osgood
1974 Gary Locke
1975 Charlie Cooke
1976 Ray Wilkins
1977 Ray Wilkins
1978 Micky Droy
1979 Tommy Langley
1980 Clive Walker
 
Year Winner
1981 Petar Borota
1982 Mike Fillery
1983 Joey Jones
1984 Pat Nevin
1985 David Speedie
1986 Eddie Niedzwiecki
1987 Pat Nevin
1988 Tony Dorigo
1989 Graham Roberts
1990 Ken Monkou
1991 Andy Townsend
1992 Paul Elliott
1993 Frank Sinclair
1994 Steve Clarke
 
Year Winner
1995 Erland Johnsen
1996 Ruud Gullit
1997 Mark Hughes
1998 Dennis Wise
1999 Gianfranco Zola
2000 Dennis Wise
2001 John Terry
2002 Carlo Cudicini
2003 Gianfranco Zola
2004 Frank Lampard
2005 Frank Lampard
2006 John Terry
2007 Michael Essien
2008 Joe Cole
 
Year Winner
2009 Frank Lampard
2010 Didier Drogba
2011 Petr Čech
2012 Juan Mata
2013 Juan Mata
2014 Eden Hazard
2015 Eden Hazard
2016 Willian
2017 Eden Hazard
2018 N’Golo Kanté
2019 Eden Hazard
2020

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