The 1982-83 season will go down in the history books as one of Chelsea’s worst ever, as the Blues narrowly avoided relegation to the then third division. Former club chairman Ken Bates promised fans at the end of the season that the disaster would never be repeated again.
Chelsea were a club in turmoil at the time and their problems were not only confined to the pitch – off it, they faced similar crises. There was tension between the club and the company that owned Stamford Bridge, who were threatening to stop the club from playing at their home stadium. However, with the backing of Bates, the “Save the Bridge Appeal” was launched and the club managed to secure their status at the famous ground.
Mind you, this was all before Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and invested enough money to transform Chelsea into a major force within both English and world football.
Clive Walker spares Blues’ blushes
Largely as a result of poor performances from the Blues, hooliganism was becoming rife and match attendances became as low as 6,000. Clive Walker turned out to be the hero of the season as he scored a goal during a relegation dogfight against Bolton. The Blues eventually then secured their survival in the second tier of English football as they played out to a 0-0 stalemate against Middlesbrough on the final day of the season.
It is mind-boggling to think what would have happened to Chelsea had they been relegated that in 1983; they could have been a completely different club to what they are today. Following the campaign, the Blues received a much-needed cash boost in 1983, which laid the foundations for the club to enjoy the successes they do today. Had they been relegated, the club could have lost a lot of players and funds would have been hard to come by.
Header image by Russell Trebor (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons