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Chelsea FC

Founded: 1905

Address: Stamford Bridge, London SW6 1HS England

Phone: 0870 300 1212

Fax: 020 7381 4831

Email: fitc@chelseafc.com

Official URL: http://www.chelseafc.com

Chairman: Bruce Buck

Club Director: Ron Gourlay & Eugene Tenenbaum

Stadium: Stamford Bridge

Club History
It is a measure of just how dramatically Chelsea's status and expectations have changed since 2004 that last season, when they lifted both domestic cups, was regarded as a bitter disappointment. They embarked on the 2006-07 season determined to clinch a hat-trick of Premier League titles and to conquer the Champions League. The squad had been bolstered by the addition of a world class striker (Andriy Shevchenko) and midfielder (Michael Ballack) and manager Jose Mourinho targeted an unprecedented Quadruple. But in the event they fell short in the two biggest tournaments, Manchester United beating them into second place in the Premiership and their cup nemesis Liverpool defeating them in the semi-final of the Champions League. Victory in the Carling Cup final against Arsenal, and the FA Cup final against United, offered scant consolation to Mourinho and his players, because for all of United's consistency in the League, the feeling was that Chelsea had been their own worst enemies during 2006-07. Mourinho had not covered his defensive positions adequately during the summer transfer window, and the omission proved a glaring one at a critical stage of the season when injuries struck. Moreover, the need to accommodate Ballack, particularly, and Shevchenko meant Mourinho was deploying a different formation from the one that had yielded so much success in the previous two campaigns. The midfield was compressed into a narrow diamond, and the lack of width robbed the Blues of their most potent attacking options. Meanwhile, a simmering rift between Mourinho and the club's owner Roman Abramovich provided a negative backdrop to the entire campaign and prevented Mourinho from bringing in reinforcements during the January transfer window. Nevertheless, Chelsea's consistency was remarkable: they didn't lose in the League after 20th January, and Manchester United were not able to relax until early May. Liverpool again thwarted the Blues' European ambitions as the Mourinho-Rafa Benitez rivalry touched new heights of fractiousness, and the prevailing emotion at Stamford Bridge by the end of the season was one of frustrated anti-climax - now replaced by burning determination to put the record straight this season. Mourinho has signalled an intention to revert to a more expansive formation, and while Chelsea were more cautious in the transfer market in summer 2007, the acquisition of Florent Malouda, Claudio Pizarro, Steve Sidwell, Alex, Tal Ben-Haim and Juliano Belletti have hardly weakened the squad. Their awesome consistency under Mourinho again makes Chelsea the safest best for honours this season, although an early season set-back against Aston Villa showed they are fallible. Nevertheless, they will be formidable adversaries in both Premier and Champions League competitions this season. The club's elevation into the top echelon of world football can be dated to the arrival of Russian billionaire Abramovich in 2003. With money no object in the transfer market for first Claudio Ranieri and then, from 2004, Mourinho, Chelsea were transformed into England's leading club. The shrewd Portuguese tactician led the Blues to the Premiership title in 2004-05, retained the crown the following season and is gunning to reclaim it in 2007-08. Having raised the bar significantly in the Premiership, Mourinho is a man on a mission. Yet the club's current eminence is in contrast to their beginnings and indeed most of the first 100 years of their existence. The catalyst for the formation of Chelsea Football Club was the fact that nearby Fulham FC turned down the opportunity to rent the Stamford Bridge ground from landlord Mr H A Mears, who had owned the site since 1904. Mears, though, was determined to develop the site as a football stadium rather than sell it to the Great Western Railway. He got together with Frederick Parker, who covinced Mears that it would be financially advantageous to develop a major sporting venue in south-west London. So Chelsea FC was formed in 1905. When they were denied admission to the Southern League, Chelsea were immediately admitted into the Second Division of the Football League. Despite spending seven spells in the old Second Division between 1905 and 1989, Chelsea have never been out of the top two tiers of English football, and in 1992 became one of the founder members of the Premier League. In 1954-55 manager Ted Drake - legendary swashbuckling goalscorer for Arsenal and England in the 1930s - guided Chelsea to their first League title. Tommy Docherty and Dave Sexton built teams that made an impact in cup competitions in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but by the early 1980s the near-bankrupt club had been bought by Ken Bates for a token £1. As chairman Bates enjoyed a flamboyant reign that saw Chelsea secure Stamford Bridge as their home. Bates oversaw the ambitious development of the stadium as part of the Chelsea Village hotel, sports and leisure complex. He also appointed, in succession, Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli and Claudio Ranieri as team managers. The club duly established themselves among the small band of England"s elite and enjoyed a glamorous image as well as more success in cup competitions. But by mid-2003 Chelsea were nearly bankrupt again. Enter Abramovich, the Russian billionaire, who bought the club off Bates and embarked on a spending spree unprecedented in English or indeed world football. The investment in highly-priced international talent nearly paid early dividends: Chelsea finished second in the Premiership in 2003-04, their best position for 49 years; and they were European Cup (Champions League) semi-finalists. But nearly was not good enough for Abramovich, and manager Ranieri - whose position had been insecure all season despite good results - paid the price with his job in early summer 2004. His replacement was Jose Mourinho, who had just won five major trophies in two years with Porto, including the Uefa Cup (2003) and European Cup (2004). The Portuguese coach promised Chelsea the Premiership title under his management - and duly delivered. Now he has to reclaim it - and lead the Blues to Champions League glory.
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