A Hero Global Football Fund has been formed to ‘invest’ in the potential footballing stars of the future. The fund intends to own players economic rights, in the same way that Media Sports Investments owned Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano when they moved to West Ham. There is still a heated legal battle being ensuing between Sheffield United and West Ham.

The fund already has 27 million pounds ready to invest courtesy of Emirates NBD, the national bank of Dubai. Wealthy individuals are being invited to invest tens of thousands each into the fund, which is registered in the tax haven of Jersey, and the Hero Fund aims to return at least a 10% profit to them.

The launch announcement states that players will be recruited from around the world, especially from Africa, South America and the Far East. The statement explained “The fund makes a profit by selling players’ registrations and other economic benefits, such as image rights, to professional clubs.”

The funds are intended to be used to pour money into smaller clubs who may be in financial difficulties, enabling them to buy or hold on to young players for longer. Investors will make their profit from a percentage of the players’ transfer fees when they are transferred.

Apparently, the fund will stay on the right side of football’s laws because they will not have a ‘material influence’ over any club where they have a financial interest in a player. In the Tevez case, West Ham pleaded guilty before a Premier League disciplinary tribunal of breaching the rule which prohibits ‘third parties’ from influencing team affairs. That was due to the fact that Tevez’s third party ‘owners’ could insist the striker be sold if an offer came in to buy him at a stipulated price.

The fact that Tevez and Mascherano’s economic rights were not initially owned by their club, Corinthians, but by Media Sports Investments resulted in a sense of unease in the British game. This is because the transfer system is regarded as a valuable means of distributing money to smaller clubs that develop players. When Liverpool bought Mascherano for nearly 18 million pounds the money went to to Media Sports Investments, not Corinthians or West Ham.

The practice of businessmen owning a players economic rights is widely accepted in other parts of the world, particularly in South America. Critics argue that the system of player ownership undermines smaller clubs, who receive a small amount of money up front but do not get the full reward if a player they develop moves to a big club. Players from Brazil and other South American countries light up wealthy leagues across Europe, yet at home their clubs are mostly impoverished or in near-collapse.

The Hero fund will pay money directly to clubs here and in Europe, to enable them to buy or retain young players and pay their way in a difficult economic climate. In return the fund will be entitled to a share of the transfer fee when the player is sold. The fund will not stipulate that a club must sell a player if a profitable offer comes in, will not charge interest, and will make a loss on players who do not secure lucrative moves.


This article takes a look at the likely outcome of the end of this Premiership season. Please note that as the season has not been played out it is impossible to accurately predict the outcome. None of the events that are mentioned in this article have actually happened yet and it could be argued that events probably won’t unfold like this.

Manchester City win the Premier League with the money from Dubai. They were hovering in the mid-table positions before their new owners went shopping in the January sales. Berbatov and Tevez made the switch to the blue half on Manchester. The additions of Kaka, Ronaldinho and Fabregas provided their new look forward line with the ammunition to secure Premiership glory. City are early favourites to win next years Champions League.

Newcastle looked like a club doomed to relegation but a takeover by a mystery Cuban consortium revived the clubs fortunes. The Toon Army took advantage of Manchester United’s money problems by securing the services of Ferdinand and Rooney in January. An influx of South American talent saw the geordies stage a late title bid and they lost on goal average on the final day of the season. Alan Shearer was relieved from his position as manager because he failed to meet the fans’ expectations. Newcastle will play in next years Champions League.

Chelsea looked in a strong position but faltered over the festive period. Abramovich funded the purchase of Lionel Messi in February and the title challenge seemed to be back on track. Mysteriously, the ogliarch has been missing since March and there are rumours that Chelski could face financial ruin if he does not return to Stamford Bridge soon. Messi proved a shrewd purchase as the Blues won the Champions League trophy in Rome. John Terry scores the winning penalty. A third place finish is not enough to qualify for the Champions league due to the new financial requirements.

Liverpool finally looked like they were going to make an impact on the Premier League. It was all going so well as they led the table going into the festive period. The acquisition of Lionel Messi in the January transfer window seemed to cement that they were a club on the rise. Unfortunately, with Hicks and Gillett unable to restructure loans taken out to acquire the club Liverpool were in turmoil by February. There assets were sold off, which saw Anfield become Manchester City’s new reserve stadium and a whole host of players released. Liverpool made the move to share Goodison Park. Gerrard moved on a free transfer to Inter Milan, while Messi moved to Chelsea and Torres opted for Everton. Liverpool finished in 4th but were unable to particpate in Europe due to the new financial requirements.

Hull City took the Premiership by storm. They finished in 5th position and qualified for the champions league due to UEFA’s new rules that clubs in debt can no longer participate in European Competition.

Everton seemed as if they were destined for another season of mid-table mediocrity. The financial collapse of Liverpool FC benefitted the club as they received a huge income from renting out their Goodison Park ground. The income allowed the club to prepare an audacious bid for spanish superstar Fernando Torres. The striker was available on a free and fired the toffees into Europe, finishing in 6th place. They received the final champions league place.

Manchester United were hit hard by the global credit crunch. Crowds were falling at Old Trafford, the Red Devil’s main sponsors collapsed and the Glaziers were unable to restructure the loans used to purchase the club. This resulted in the club selling off their most prized assets to stay afloat. Barcelona use the money from the Messi transfer to steal Ronaldo from under the noses of Real Madrid. Other January transfers included Ferdinand and Rooney moving east to Newcastle, and Berbatov and Tevez making the short transfer to Manchester City.

West Ham managed to get their act together and were cruising towards european qualification. The Tevez/Mascherano saga came back to haunt them as they were ordered to swap positions with Sheffield United, who had just been relegated from the Championship. West Ham will start the new season in League One and Sheffield United have qualifed for the UEFA cup due to the Hammers 8th place position.

Aston Villa were flying high but were deducted points for fielding an ineligible player. Steven Gerrard paired Gareth Barry in midfield during January after the midfielder had been released by Liverpool. Gerrard had already signed a contract with Inter Milan and was therefore playing illegally for the villians. 

Portsmouth faced a Government inquiry due to alleged match-fixing. As a result the team have been relegated from the Premier League. No further comment can be added at this time. They were initially replaced by Championship winners Cardiff City but it appears that they are from Wales. As a result the impostors were directed to the Welsh Premier League and replaced by Ipswich because they finished in 12th.

Arsenal were another club caught up in the credit crunch. Only one apartment was sold in their Highbury development and attendances fell in the Emirates stadium. This resulted in the club cashing in on inspirational midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Star signings Bramble and McShane were unable to shore up a leaky defence and the Gooners were unable to recover from the players lost in the January transfer window. 

Sunderland were another team loitering in mid-table before manager, Roy Keane, was involved in an altercation with angry Sunderland fans in March. It seems Nial Quinn’s protective decision to play the rest of their home games behind closed doors didn’t prove to have a positive impact on the teams performance.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan sold his chain of sports shops to finance the expansion of the Wigan brand. The Whelan Arena will soon be open and is aimed at providing affordable viewing experiences for the whole nation. The capacity will be just over one hundred thousand and admission prices are set at just two pounds. Entrance includes a free hot dog,

Middlesbrough made it to the FA Cup final. Injury problems resulted in Gareth Southgate bringing himself on in the second half of extra time. In the penalty shoot-out he missed the decisive penalty. Southgate is currently using the off season to film a series of original Pizza Hut adverts.

Bolton were boosted by the return of Jay Jay Okocha as a player-manager. The Nigerian inspired Bolton to win the FA Cup. Okocha won the battle of the managers in the penalty shoot out with an audacious chip into the top corner. They managed to finish the season on a high after having to slug it out in the relegation zone.

Stoke City managed to survive a dogged relegation battle. The team were involved in a controversial merger with Basingstoke Town. After failing to fill the Brittainia, the Stoke side decided to move 160 miles to the Camrose ground in Hampshire. 

West Bromich Albion appointed Adrian Chiles as their new manager. The team really came together as a unit and managed to fend off relegation in their first season back in the big time. They didn’t manage to find a shirt sponsor until March. Luckily, the Women’s Bowling Association stepped in and created a lucrative partnership. Several players have been loaned in each direction.

Blackburn suffered due to falling attendances at Ewood Park as most of their fans started supporting Manchester City. Luckily, even though they finished in the relegation zone they will stay up due to Pompey being relegated.

Fulham suffered from the global economic crisis. Mohammed Al Fayed was forced to tighten the purse strings after Harrods was closed due to competition from a new Knightsbridge Tesco Superstore. QPR replace them after coming second in the Championship. They have agreed to take over the Olympic Stadium after it has been built.

Tottenham become the first ever team to go through an entire season without winning a game. They are relegated with a measly total of nine points, a record low. They qualify for the UEFA cup due to UEFA’s new financial requirements. Crystal Palace will replace them in the Premiership after winning in the play-offs. Moses and Clyne were the goalscorers against Sheffield Wednesday. An excited Jordan (NOTE: Simon Jordan, not the glamour model) stated “I bet John Bostock wish he’d have stayed put”.

Why is it that it seems average Premiership footballers can get paid over twenty thousand pounds a week, an annual wage of just under one million pounds a year? The top players can command salaries closer to one hundred and fifty thousand pounds a week, a staggering seven point two million pounds a year.

Would these players be willing to play football for only two thousand pounds a week, a paltry annual salary just under one hundred thousand pounds? It is important to consider that it is only a small percentage of footballers that ply their trade in the Premiership and receive these astronomical wages.

It can be argued that these wages are determined by the two basic factors of supply and demand. The supply of talented players able to perform at the highest level is very limited. If a club wishes to acquire one of the best players in the world then due to the lack of supply and, more importantly, the high demand for the player, the players value as a commodity will rise. The supply curve for this commodity (world class player) is perfectly inelastic. When you have a supply curve that is perfectly inelastic, the wage will be determined by the demand curve; any increase in demand for that player will result in an increase in price.

The demand for the top players is extremely competitive. It is an open market where Premiership clubs not only face competition from each other, but also clubs from the other top European leagues. The competitive nature of the bidding means that the clubs often have to bid the maximum that they are willing to pay in order to acquire the player. It would not be correct to state that it is just the supply curve that affects player wages as the supply of the best cricket players is similarly inelastic, but not many cricket players could boast an annual salary of nearly a million pounds.

The theory of Marginal Revenue Productivity (MRP) suggests that demand for labour depends on two things. Marginal revenue (MR) of the last good sold and the marginal product of labour (MP). The MR is the price people are willing to pay to consume the good. In the case of the Premiership this would be the price people are willing to pay to watch the game, either live or on television. This also includes sponsorship and prize money.

The Premiership boom has seen an unprecedented amount of money flow into the sport, mainly due to the influx of revenue from selling the rights to broadcast live games. Considering the amount of money coming into the game, there is a relatively small number of workers (players) who need paying. For example, Manchester United and Arsenal can generate over one million pounds per game on gate receipts alone, yet the number of people they have to employ is relatively low. Therefore, it could be suggested that there is a high amount of money available to attract the best players.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to accurately measure the MP of players. However, if one player is good enough to make the difference between a team finishing 5th and 4th in the Premiership then it can be worth millions of pounds to their club. This is due to additional prize money and potentially qualifying for the lucrative UEFA Champions League tournament. A saved penalty, a clearance off the line or an unstoppable strike has the potential to be worth millions of pounds. This gives footballers a potentially very high productivity. This could be why clubs are willing to pay so much on transfer fees and player wages.

If we were to examine the sport lower down the Football League, the money in the game is much lower. For example, prize money and television rights is a incomparable to the amounts on offer in the Premiership. Effectively, this would lead to the MRP of lower division players being much lower, explaining why the lower league players earn considerably less than players performing three leagues above them.

This article looks to investigate the history and varieties of association football through the ages. Most historians would argue that the origins of modern association football would be traced back to England but there is a great deal of evidence that points to the beautiful game having an older history.

The Chinese version of the game roughly dates back to 300 BC, was originally called ‘Tsu Chu’ and involved players on a field that had to hit a leather ball stuffed with fur into a small hole. Like football, use of the hands was not permitted during the game and it was considered an honour to be a member of a team. The Emperor of the Han Dynasty, when the game was developed, was an avid player and fan. This helped to spread the popularity of this game all over China during his reign. A version of Tsu Chu is still played today. While the two games are similar, Tsu Chu appears to have had little effect on the modern version of association football.

Kemari is the Japanese version of football and is one of the most different versions of the sport, established in roughly 1004 BC. Kemari was a game of ‘keep it up’ using a ball that was stuffed with sawdust. This version involves a pitch designated by the selection of four trees, the cherry, maple, pine and willow. Many great houses in Japan would grow trees to have a permanent pitch, or field, established. It can be played with two to twelve players. China’s Tsu Chu players and Japan’s Kemari players were the first to have an ‘international’ game of their versions of football, which is dated to have occurred in roughly 50 BC.

It is thought there was a version of a type of ball game played by young Egyptian women during the age of Baqet III. On his tomb, images of this sport were depicted, although no one is certain how the game was played or whether or not it truly affected the outcome of modern association football. Recordings of this game date as far back as 2500 BC, although not much more is known asides the fact that it was played with a ball.

Perhaps the closest relative to modern football are the games that were created by the Greeks during the prime of their culture. They had numerous varieties of football style games, some of which required hands and some of which forbade hands. After the Roman conquering of Greece, the game harpastum is what modern football would be based on. This game was probably a modified version of the Greek’s ‘harpaston’, which translates roughly to handball.

In Britain during the 8th century, football was created not for recreation but as a war game. One of the stories of the original roots of the sport comes from when a Danish Prince was beheaded, and his head was used as a ball and was kicked around. Ever since this ‘legendary’ tale, villages and other communities would play a game where they would have to kick a ball to a specific goal. It was a violent game, where injury and death were common place. It was so violent, that in 1331, King Edward the III passed laws to try to stop the playing of the game. It did not work, however, and the sport continued.

Some games apparently involved hundreds upon hundreds of players. In these games, there were many deaths, some resulting in the hundreds. It wasn’t until 1815 when Eton College set up a series of rules for the game that it became less violent and more codified as a true sport. Other colleges and universities began to play under similar rules. Theses rules were eventually evaluated and judged, and the Cambridge rules were created as a result in 1848. In the Cambridge rules, shin-kicking, carrying the ball and tripping were all forbidden. Rugby rules allowed these aspects, and the two varieties of football split to form their own followings.

On October 26, 1863, London schools and sports club sent representatives to the Freemason’s Tavern, where the Football Association was formed. Rugby supporters left this association to form the Rugby Association. This is where the birth of modern association football began. In 1869, the Football Association finalized the modern game of soccer by forbidding the use of hands in the game.

This article will investigate the Premier League’s proposal for game 39, along with other alternatives, in their quest for further global domination… or is it exploitation? The product is the Premier League and the target audience used to be restricted to England. The mighty Premiership has grown with the funding, support and exposure from Sky and it now seems every living being on this planet is within it’s grasp.

Proposals for Game 39 are based on an extra ‘international’ round of matches to be staged in cities around the world, taking the league to the global audience that it craves. It was suggested that a round of fixtures staged in Sydney, Beijing, Miami and Tokyo could raise over one hundred million pounds a year. That provided one hundred million reasons for Premiership clubs to show their support of the idea. Tempted by the opportunity to raise up to 5 million pounds per club for one game, and to advertise their brands in developing markets, many clubs have supported the proposal put to them by Richard Scudamore, the league’s chief executive.

The Premier League had apparently considered many proposals to take games abroad, such as staging one big match, say Chelsea against Arsenal, in New York. They seem to have concluded that every club deserved to be involved. Sports are increasingly competing for a global audience and the Premier League is in a great position to make an impact. Football is established in most countries and increasingly popular in expanding markets such as India and China, as well as North America.

The proposal drew instant and familiar accusations of greed from many English fans, particularly season-ticket holders, as well as reservations from the Government. The Football Association also opposed the plans stating that there already seemed to be a problem with fixture congestion and there is the issue that a 39th game could change the symmetry of the competition or would introduce a perceived unfairness. With England due to bid for the 2018 World Cup the FA seemed worried about the possibility of souring international relations.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter labeled the proposals an abuse of association football and warned it could cost England any chance of hosting the 2018 World Cup. The Fifa president advised national associations to reject any approach from the Premier League to host matches, a move attempting to kill off the proposal as games cannot take place abroad without the support of local associations.

For the Premier League, the search is on for a new way of exploiting their worldwide popularity. Having been told by Scudamore that exhibition matches won’t attract the sort of money or profile that will make a major international strategy worthwhile, it is difficult to see what format will work. Two possible options apparently being considered include a mini-tournament being played during a winter break, and a summer friendly competition named the Premier League Cup to replace the current Community Shield.

The Premier League Cup idea could seed the top five teams among five groups of four teams. The other teams featured would be a mixture of Premier League clubs and expanded groups could even include teams from the Football League. Places could be gained through a revised version of the League Cup tournament. Cities throughout the world could bid to host one of the five group stages.

Replacing the Community Shield and revising the League Cup could be an easy transition. The Community Shield seems to have become an additional preseason friendly each year. While it could be an easy to implement the League Cup to the Football League Cup, excluding Premiership clubs. A Premier League Cup concept could be an better package for the league to sell and for the fans to accept, especially compared with the more radical 39th Game idea.

The 1955 league title success proved unsustainable as the side was ageing with only a few youth prospects. The year after winning the league Chelsea finished 16th and a succession of lower table finishes followed, this despite the emergence of a teenage striking protegee Jimmy Greaves, probably Chelsea’s best youth product ever. Greaves was without doubt a goal-scoring genius – still regarded by many as the finest finisher England has ever produced. He reached the 100-goal mark before turning 21 and by the time of his sale to AC Milan in 1961, Greaves had scored an incredible 132 times in 169 appearances.

In the swinging 60s Chelsea became the fashionable heart of London, but the success of the surrounding area was not duplicated on the field at Stamford Bridge. The team did become known off the pitch for their fashionable clothes, accessories, and celebrity lifestyles and the club enjoyed a certain celebrity in the media during this period. As the 60s moved into full swing fresh-faced players such as Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris, Barry Bridges, Bobby Tambling and Terry Venables began to emerge. Within those five would emerge Chelsea’s record ever goalscorer, our record ever appearance maker and our longest serving and some would say, greatest goalkeeper. The average age of the side dropped down to just 21.

In the sixties the fans were treated to top five finishes and three consecutive FA Cup semi-finals. Chelsea defeated Leicester City 3-2 on aggregate in the League Cup Final, which was Chelsea’s first knockout cup success. Evenings of glamorous European football were becoming a feature of Stamford Bridge life too. In the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, Italian giants Roma and Milan were beaten before Barcelona proved too strong at Camp Nou. A second FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park in two years followed but Wembley stayed just out of reach.

After managerial disagreements Venables’ clever passing was replaced with the dribbling ability of a young Scot named Charlie Cooke. Cooke is one of the greatest entertainers to have graced the Stamford Bridge turf, his creative skills combining perfectly with Peter Osgood. Osgood had somehow evaded the attentions of professional clubs until the age of 17 but once at Chelsea he was the new prince, and would soon be crowned King of Stamford Bridge.

In 1966 Chelsea reached their third successive semi-final at Villa Park. At the sixth time of asking, a Wembley FA Cup Final was reached. It was the first-ever all-London affair – the Cockney Cup Final as it became known with Tottenham Hotspur the opposition that afternoon in 1967. The fans relished the prospect of a showpiece occasion but the day turned out to be a damp squib. The deserved 2-1 defeat was made none the easier to bear by the presence of Greaves and Venables in Spurs colours. That was the last major occasion for Bobby Tambling in a Chelsea shirt although he stayed for another couple of seasons. The player who had taken the burden of goalscoring from Greaves found the net 202 times in 370 games – a Chelsea all-time record.

Peter Bonetti had developed into a goalkeeper of the highest standard. Ron Harris, Eddie McCreadie, Webb and Dempsey formed an uncompromising back-line. With John Hollins and Charlie Cooke in midfield there was a mixture of endeavour and flair. Peter Houseman supplied regular crosses from the left to where Osgood’s class and the battling qualities of Hutchinson awaited. Pulling the strings was an 18 year-old midfielder born within the sound of The Shed – Alan Hudson.

In 1970 Chelsea reached the FA Cup Final once more, this time against Leeds United – the reigning League Champions and the best team of the era. Leeds twice took the lead on a pitch that shamed Wembley’s reputation but each time Chelsea showed enough steel to equalise. For the first time in a Wembley Cup Final, the sides could not be separated on the day. The replay was at Old Trafford and was a ferociously fought and at times brutal game. Chelsea again came from behind to take the game into extra-time before Hutchinson’s long throw found its way to Webb’s head and Leeds were a beaten outfit. Osgood had scored in every round. After three finals and seven semi-finals, Chelsea had at last lifted their first FA Cup.

Cup victory brought qualification for the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Man City were beaten in an all-English semi-final to take Chelsea to Greece for the Final where the legendary white shirts of Real Madrid awaited. With Hudson and Cooke inspired, it was Chelsea’s turn to take, then surrender a lead, Madrid battling back to score a cruel equaliser in the dying seconds. Extra-time proved goalless and suddenly the army of Chelsea fans were making plans to stay in Greece another two days. They were not let down. Dempsey scored a rare and spectacular goal in the replay, added to by Osgood. Real Madrid pulled one back late on but this time there was no slip-up. Chelsea’s first European trophy was flying back home.

Stamford Bridge was no longer a home fit for returning heroes. Time had long moved on since the days when it was the finest sports venue in London. The club began to build a new 60,000 capacity stadium to match any but sadly the timing was poor and the plans flawed. The first stage – a new East Stand – was hampered by a multitude of problems and was completed a year late and a massive 1.3 million pounds over budget. Debt was a new and dangerous opponent. Just four years after the European triumph, Chelsea were relegated to Division Two. With the debts greater than 3 million pounds, it was an incredible decline.

During the 1970s and 80s the team had dipped in and out of the Second Division and serious financial difficulties lead to the sale of star players, such as promising midfielder Ray Wilkins to Manchester United. Crisis point was reached with the players unpaid and the bank not cashing Chelsea’s cheques. Ken Bates, a businessman who had previously been involved with smaller clubs up north was asked to invest. He bought the football club plus debts for a nominal one pound.

Kerry Dixon and David Speedie were among the players brought in whilst the club was operating on a shoe-string budget. The team stormed to the Second Division title in 1983. The rapid climb continued with a sixth place finish in the first season back in Division One, Dixon sharing the Golden Boot with 24 League goals and 36 in all competitions. He was destined to become the club’s second highest scorer after Tambling, finding the net 193 times.

At the beginning of the nineties, money became available for our first one million pound-plus purchases, midfielders Andy Townsend and Dennis Wise, but the seasons that followed were frustrating. In 1993 Glenn Hoddle was appointed as manager raising the club’s profile instantly and the quality of Chelsea’s play improved, slowly at first but the momentum built towards an FA Cup Final appearance at the end of his first season. Waiting at Wembley were Manchester United, a big occasion that came too early for this group of players. Chelsea lost 4-0 after a bright start. The scoreline was rather harsh.

In the nineties Chelsea slowly began to establish themselves as a major force in English and European football. Notable purchases in the nineties included Dutch superstars Ruud Gullit and Ed De Goey, Romanian Dan Petrescu, Italians Ginaluca Vialli, Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo, French pair Frank Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly, Uruguay’s Gus Poyet, Norweigan Tore Andre Flo and Welsh goal-scoring supremo Mark Hughes.

With Gullit in his first season as player-manager, Chelsea won their first trophy for 26 years when they beat Middlesborough to win the FA Cup in 1997. t took Di Matteo just 43 seconds, a Wembley Cup Final record, to fire his side ahead. Homegrown Eddie Newton sealed a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the second-half. A long 26 year wait for honours was over and what followed were the longest celebrations seen in the history of the famous old stadium.

The shock departure of Gullit in 1998 led to the appointment of another player-manager, the Italian striker Gianluca Vialli. Within three months Vialli had already collected two trophies. Middlesbrough were beaten 2-0 in the Coca Cola Cup Final with another youth product, Frank Sinclair, and Di Matteo the scorers. Then in Stockholm, over 20,000 Chelsea fans saw Zola rise from the bench to score the only goal against Stuttgart and secure the European Cup Winners’ Cup for a second time. The FA Cup was added in 2000 when Chelsea defeated Aston Villa 1-0, Di Matteo again, in the last final to be played at the old Wembley.

Vialli was in charge of a squad that many commentators felt was of good quality and depth and they made there first Champions League campaign. A famous Dennis Wise equaliser in Milan’s San Siro stadium, Galatasaray’s red-hot support silenced by a 5-0 win in Turkey and the giants of Barcelona beaten 3-1 at the Bridge were the highlights of the campaign. Chelsea equalled the British transfer record by paying fifteen million pounds for goalscorer Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. His first goal in his first game helped us raise the Charity Shield to make it six trophies in a little over three years.

Claudio Ranieri replaced Vialli as manager and after a season he began his transfer activities shipping out Wise, Poyet and Leboeuf. He spent 42 million pounds to bring in defender William Gallas, midfielders Frank Lampard, Emmanuel Petit, Slavisa Jokanovic plus wingers Jesper Gronkjaer and Boudewijn Zenden. In 2002 Chelsea made the Fa Cup final but lost 2-0 to Arsenal in Cardiff. Cup finals and top six finishes were becoming commonplace but debts accumulated in rebuilding the team, the stadium plus the construction of an adjoining hotel and leisure complex were causing concern.

The new dawn for Chelsea broke when the club was purchased by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003. It soon became clear the direction the club would be taking when Abramovich sanctioned the biggest close-season spending spree world football had ever seen.

Young English talent was bought in the shape of Glen Johnson, Wayne Bridge and Joe Cole. Other Premiership clubs were raided for Geremi and Juan Sebastian Veron while Damien Duff was a new club record purchase at 17 million pounds. Italy’s Serie A was the next port of call for two top level strikers, Adrian Mutu and Hernan Crespo, while the final piece in the jigsaw was Claude Makelele from Real Madrid. Over 100 million pounds was spent on players for the new season and away from the pitch, Abramovich took the club back into private ownership.

After four years without a trophy, the decision was taken to bring in a new coach capable of leading a concerted challenge for football’s highest honours. In just two seasons, Jose Mourinho had taken Porto to successive UEFA Cup and Champions League triumphs as well as back-to-back leagues plus domestic cups in his native Portugal.

One of Mourinho’s first acts was to hand the captain’s armband to John Terry, the best Chelsea youth product for over two decades. Portuguese internationals Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho and Tiago followed Mourinho to London. Two of Europe’s hottest young prospects, Petr Cech and Arjen Robben also arrived, as did Didier Drogba, raising the club record purchase fee to more than 20 million pounds. Mateja Kezman was a second new striker.

The Championship was won with the best points total and best defensive record in English top-flight history. Terry was the first Chelsea player to be voted PFA Player of the Year while Lampard, who had scored 19 goals from midfield in all competitions, was the Footballer of the Year. Chelsea may have fallen short in the Champions League again (losing to Liverpool in the semi-final) but a Carling Cup victory with the team from Anfield again the opponents, ensured 2004-5 was our most successful season ever. It truly was the perfect way to celebrate Chelsea’s first 100 years.

Chelsea football club would not have come into being without the construction of their Stamford Bridge ground. Stamford Bridge was built in 1877 as an athletics track. Gus Mears was a football enthusiast and had purchased the land. He realised that at the turn of the century London failed to provide a single team to the Football League First Division. Mears had spotted the potential for a football club to play at an old athletics ground at Stamford Bridge.

Due to unforeseen problems and a lucrative offer for the land Mears was on the verge of selling up and abandoning his sporting project. Colleague Frederick Parker, an enthusiastic supporter of the football stadium project attempted to dissuade him but was told he was wasting his time. In a bizarre turn of events, Parker persuaded Mears to change his mind due to his reaction after being bitten by Mears dog. Despite drawing blood and causing great pain it only drew an amused reaction from Parker.

Chelsea were not in the original plan though. Due to a financial disagreement nearby Fulham Football Club, who were already in existence, declined an offer to abandon the less grand Craven Cottage and move into Stamford Bridge. So in contrast to the history of so many clubs, Mears decided to build a team for a stadium, rather than the other way round. On March 14th 1905 Chelsea Football Club was established, after rejecting several other proposed names, including Stamford Bridge FC, Kensington FC and London FC.

The team joined the Second Division of the expanding Football League, and they played their first ever game against Stockport County on the 29th May 1905. The crowds flocked to Stamford Bridge and over 67,000 supporters turned up for the visit of Manchester United on Good Friday of that first season. Chelsea’s first celebrity player was 22 stone England international goalkeeper Willie ‘Fatty’ Foulke.

Chelsea appeared in their first FA Cup final in 1915, losing 3-0 to Sheffield United. The First World War had cast a dark shadow over football and the game was known as the ‘The Khaki Final’ due to the amount of army uniforms in the crowd at Old Trafford. In the 1920’s three FA Cup Finals were played at Stamford Bridge in the years immediately prior to the opening of Wembley Stadium in 1923.

In the 1930’s Britain had emerged from the horrors of war to face economic depression. Londoners craved distraction and entertainment in their limited spare time. This void was filled with football with crowd figures rising. In October 1935 82,905 crammed into the Bridge for a league game against Arsenal – the highest official attendance ever recorded at the ground. It remains the biggest attendance in English league football too. Chelsea splashed out on northern stars Alec Cheyne, Alec Jackson and Hughie Gallacher.

In the 1940’s war-time football saw normal competitions abandoned for regional versions and guest players turning out for sides. Chelsea appeared at Wembley for the first time in the Football League South Cup Final in 1944, losing to Charlton, before winning in front of the king in the same competition 12 months later against Millwall. At the end of the World War II, Stamford Bridge had survived the bombing and just six months after Victory in Europe was declared, the 40 year-old stadium hosted what remains one of its most momentous occasions – Dynamo Day.

London was desperate to see top level football and there were few bigger draws than the mystery of a team travelling over from war-time allies Russia. Moscow Dynamo opened a tour of Britain against Chelsea and it seemed the whole city came to watch. The turnstiles were closed with a recorded 74,496 having passed through but the shut gates proved no obstacle to the football-starved masses. Estimates put the total crowd at over 100,000. Such were the scenes around the pitch that the 3-3 result seems incidental.

The third goal in the game was scored by new centre-forward Tommy Lawton. In his first full season he broke a club record with 26 goals in 34 First Division games, yet the team finished 15th. After an all-too-brief two years, he was gone. Two months after Lawton’s transfer, Chelsea spent just over half of the British record twenty thousand pounds they had received on a new striker, Roy Bentley. He was more mobile than his predecessor – and more long-lasting. In each of his eight full seasons at the Bridge he was club top scorer.

In 1951 Chelsea avoided relegation by a mere 0.044 of a goal. In 1952 Ted Drake was appointed as manager and he removed the Chelsea Pensioner from the club’s badge and banished ‘The Pensioners’ nickname. Former amateur Seamus O’Connell had one of the most memorable debuts in Chelsea history – scoring a hat-trick as Chelsea lost 6-5 to Manchester United at an enthralled Stamford Bridge. That was in October 1954, one of a run of six games that yielded only two points. Hardly the form of champions but it was in 1955 that Chelsea won their first league title. Bentley, by now England’s first choice centre-forward, had been an inspirational captain, scoring 21 goals.