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AFP
April 22, 2021

Chelsea returns to top four

Sports

AFP
April 22, 2021

LONDON: Chelsea moved into the Premier League’s top four after a 0-0 draw against Brighton on Tuesday, but the result was completely overshadowed by the club’s role in derailing the controversial European Super League.

Just before kick-off at Stamford Bridge, it was widely reported that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had decided to withdraw from the controversial breakaway plan.

Against that dramatic backdrop, Chelsea produced a flat performance, although the draw saw Thomas Tuchel’s side move into fourth place above West Ham on goal difference.

“We talk of nothing else but Super League before the match. I was affected so I think the players were affected,” Tuchel said.

“The situation was not clear. I was informed like you were informed. You have to accept the distraction.

“We tried to create an atmosphere to win the game but could not. We looked mentally tired.”

Chelsea visit West Ham on Saturday in a crucial clash in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Just hours before kick-off, it seems Chelsea would not have to worry about qualifying for Europe thanks to their invitation to the closed-door Super League.

But after resounding condemnation from across the political and sporting spectrum, Chelsea are set to walk away.

While Stamford Bridge remained empty due to the coronavirus pandemic, around 1,000 fans had staged an angry protest before news of the Super League meltdown broke.

The cheers when Chelsea’s imminent exit became public knowledge were as loud as any that greeted goals from the Blues when they fans were last allowed into the stadium.Chelsea supporter Dan Silver said: “I’m absolutely delighted that common sense has prevailed. The fans being at Stamford Bridge had an impact I believe.

“This is by far the best decision for the future of the beautiful game. No one should ever underestimate football fans again.”

Another unnamed supporter shouted: “The fans have won.”

Chelsea were believed to have initially agreed to sign up after fearing they would be left behind financially.

But they have back-tracked following furious criticism that culminated in the protest on their own doorstep.