Extra text: From Chelsea to Chelski
Globalization has come to sport too, especially football. In the early days of the sport, a team called Newcastle United meant just that eleven players from Newcastle, united in their loyalty to their home town. Football has long since become big business, and top clubs are part of global market and buy players from all over the globe. In February 2005 Arsenal was the first English club to field a team without a single British player!
In 1982 an Englishman, Ken Bates, decided to buy a football club. He looked around and found a famous London club with a long history and several rather dusty trophies on its shelves – and it was going cheap. He bought it for £1. The club’s name? Chelsea.
Fancy buying a major football club for just £1! How did this happen? It was a story similar to what many other clubs have experienced. You start a major rebuilding and modernisation development of your stadium. This is desperately expensive. To pay for it you have to sell some of your bestplayers. Results begin to be disappointing. You get relegated into a lower division. Crowds get smaller. Less money comes in from the turnstiles. But the building, once started, has to go on. It is a downward spiral that can end in bankruptcy. If someone can come in and buy the club and guarantee to pay its debts, say Yes! Even if he only has to pay £1.
From 1982 to 2003, Ken Bates was chairman of Chelsea. Under his guidance it moved from being at the bottom end of Division Two to becoming one of the more successful clubs in the Premiership. Chelsea won the FA Cup in 1997 and 2000, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998. However, this cost money. By 2003 the club's debts were over £80 million. It was time once again to sell, and in 2003 Bates sold Chelsea to Roman Abramovich for £60 million.
Who is this Roman Abramovich?
He is Russian, and he is very rich. But he started very poor. He grew up in northern Siberia, brought up by his relatives after both his parents died before he reached the age of four. He later moved to Moscow, and at one point made money by selling plastic ducks to passers-by.
Abramovich got a good education and showed himself to be a smart businessman. He bought cheap shares in newly privatised oil companies and rapidly earned big money. By 1995 he was the richest man in Russia. Then he moved into politics, becoming governor of the Siberian region of Chukokta, winning 92% of the vote. He brought money into dozens of projects.
He also found time for buying up sports clubs. Being Russian, he had to start by buying control of an ice-hockey team! But he soon began to look towards football. He considered putting his money into a big Spanish club, but he wanted a club where the chairman could control the club. He wanted total control. He wanted, for example, to be able to sack the manager whenever he wanted. So he looked to England, which was where the really big money was.
Taking over Chelsea
The Premiership in England generates more money on match days than the top leagues in Italy, France and Germany combined. Of the world’s 20 richest football clubs, no fewer than six are in England. Where do these clubs get their money from – apart, that is, from wealthy owners?
Income to football clubs comes from three main sources: match day ticket sales, sponsorship and merchandise (for example shirts), and – thirdly – television and other media revenues. They also have huge costs, especially players' wages and transfer fees. Chelsea’s captain in the 2006-2007 season, John Terry – who is, actually, a local lad – earned £90,000 a week. But so long as these clubs are successful, the merry-go-round can continue.
The other side of the coin is experienced by clubs that drop into lower divisions, and lose their spectator-appeal and their sponsors. Smaller clubs are facing enormous financial problems. Players in many clubs are in fact receiving lower wages than a few years ago. Money is being sucked out of the small clubs into the few biggest ones.
But for a man like Abramovich this is not a problem. He chose one of the big boys: Chelsea. What did he do at Chelsea? He quickly paid off the debt, and in the next two years spent over £200 million pounds on new players and a new manager. Most of the new players came from abroad; the new manager, José Mourinho, came from Portugal. (He later quitted the job after falling out with Abramovich. Today the club is managed by a Dutchman, Guus Hiddink, a long-time pal of the Russian owner.)
It worked. Chelsea immediately challenged the supremacy of Arsenal and Manchester United in English football, and in the 2004–2005 season outclassed them, winning the Premiership with an all-time record points total. This was Chelsea’s first league trophy in 50 years. Abramovich's team was playing attractive, sometimes dazzling, football. It had a new nickname: Chelski. It won the league again in 2005–2006.
In today's football, success follows money.
1 (Mis)Understanding the text
A fellow pupil has written notes after reading the text, but he has misunderstood pretty well everything! Help him out by explaining his misunderstandings.
– Only a fool would sell a football club for £1!
– Abramovich made a fortune in the plastic duck business.
– He would have preferred a Spanish club, but there were none for sale.
– Football is getting richer at all levels.
– They call Chelsea “Chelski” because most of the players are from Eastern Europe.
a) These words from the text are mixed up. The first and last letters are correct. What words are they? What are they in Norwegian?
gearutnae epnsvixee tohrpeis gvrooner imcnoe sspioonrhsp lugeae dvplomneeet
b) Match the following words with their definitions.
to privatise someone who is in charge of a meeting or who directs a committee or organisation
a chairman the state of being unable to pay your debts
to generate changing something so that it is more suitable for the present time
a spectator the position in which you are more powerful or advanced than anyone else
supremacy to sell an organisation or industry that was previously owned by the government
bankruptcy someone who is watching an event or game
modernisation to produce or create something
c) Have you ever played for a sports club? Write a short text about that club, or another club you know well. Use as many of the words in task 2a or b as you can.
d) The Norwegian sentence Jeg pleide å sykle på jobb can be translated as I used to cycle to work. However, in the present tense we have to use another construction: Jeg pleier å sykle på jobb – I usually cycle to work.
Translate the following sentences into English:
– Chelsea pleier å spille i blå drakter.
– Da han flyttet til Moskva, pleide Abramovich å stå på gata og selge plastender.
– I fjor pleide vi å møtes en gang i uka.
– Manchester United pleier å gjøre det bra i ligaen.
– Jeg pleide å støtte Hartlepool, men ikke nå lenger.
Discuss the following statements in class:
a) Nobody deserves to earn £90,000 (approx. NOK 1,100,000) a week, no matter how good they are.
b) Football clubs should be obliged to have a certain number of local players in their team.
c) The more money there is in a sport, the less sport there is.
d) There is far too much football in the media.
Choose one of the statements in task 3 and write a letter to an English-language magazine stating and explaining your views.
5 Role play
Sit in pairs and conduct an interview with Roman Abramovich. (One of you is Mr Abramovich, the other the interviewer. You can swap roles halfway through the interview!) Here are some of the things you might ask him about:
- His background (e.g. Could you tell us a bit about your background, Mr Abramovich?)
- How he made his fortune
- Why he became interested in sport
- Chelsea Football Club
- His plans for the future (You can make something up here!)
Chelsea Football Club
Articles & Resources