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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Does everyone hate Chelsea?
Ken Bates points at the camera
Bates: Always determined to make his point

Chelsea's Uefa Cup embarrassment at the feet of Viking Stavanger may have caused depression down the King's Road, but fans of other clubs struggled to hide their mirth.

No-one, it seems, is neutral when it comes to Chelsea. You either support them - or you greet news of their demise with some delight.

But why do they inspire so much loathing when, say, Liverpool are disliked mainly by just Manchester United and Everton fans?


Mr Chairman

Ken Bates may have the physical appearance of Father Christmas, but the bearded supremo brings little cheer to non-Chelsea fans.

Ken Bates clenches his fist
Bates is quick to answer his critics
Where Santa Claus brings presents and Yuletide joy, say Bates's critics, the Chelsea chairman wants electric fences round his pitch and a hotel/leisure complex at every British ground.

Bates may be a lovely man away from the cameras.

But, unfortunately for him, he comes across in public as the sort of chap who would chunter on about himself all night if you ever invited him round for dinner.

Which you probably wouldn't.


The players

For Chelsea-haters, the club represents everything that is bad about the Premiership.

From the mid-1990s onwards, the Stamford Bridge dressing-room has had more than its fair share of aged foreign mercenaries interested only in an easy final pay-day, say the critics.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink looks surprised
"Hey! Barca! I'm over here!"
Sure, everyone likes Gianfranco Zola - his skills have made the English game a better place to be.

But Didier Deschamps? Slavisa Jokanovic? Winston Bogarde?

In the old days, stalwarts like Ron Harris and Mickey Droy conformed to all the clichés - happy to sweat blood for the club, if cut in half would read 'Chelsea FC' all the way through, etc.

Could the same be said about Jimmy Floyd Cash-In-The-Bank? The Dutchman, all of two years into his million-pound Chelsea deal, utterly failed to hide his excitement when Barcelona were sniffing around this summer.

"Barcelona are one of the big clubs and Louis van Gaal one of the best coaches in the world," he said at the time.

"We are talking about an excellent combination and I would like to form part of it.

"At the moment, Barcelona have the potential to win the Champions League and I could contribute to that."

Of Chelsea and Ranieri, there was not so much as a dicky-bird.


The fans

Fans of Chelsea's London rivals take particular delight in stereotyping the club's supporters.

Claudio Ranieri puts his hand over his mouth
"I paid how much for Frank Lampard?"
The argument runs like this: if you've supported Chelsea for years, you are unfairly tainted by the activities of their old hooligan element.

If you haven't, you're just another Johnny-come-lately who jumped on the Premiership bandwagon when football became trendy again post Euro 96.

The annual report into football fans by the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research confirms that Chelsea's fans are not like those of other clubs.

An estimated 33% of Stamford Bridge season ticket holders make over £50,000 a year.

That figure compares with only 4% at Sunderland and less than 10% at most northern and Midlands clubs - making Chelsea's supporters the richest in the country.


Success

Since winning the FA Cup in 1997, Chelsea have enjoyed a period of relative success.

But, say their critics, all they have to show for the millions spent on transfers and the biggest wage bill in the British game are the trophies that the big boys don't really care about.

Yes, they won a European trophy - but it was the Cup-Winners' Cup, a pot so low-key that since it was scrapped people can barely remember it ever existed.

The league championship has not been seen down the King's Road since 1955 - and only the most die-hard Blue believes there is a chance of it coming back in the next decade.

 VOTE RESULTS
Whose fault is Chelsea's Uefa Cup debacle?

Claudio Ranieri
 18.11% 

The players
 81.89% 

14902 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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