Chelsea FC is one of the most influential teams in the game and is a household name even outside the UK. This has not always been the case, however.
The club’s rise is a result of long, extensive work by everyone involved, from the coaching staff to players and those operating behind the scenes. Read on to explore the ups and downs of this club’s incredible history, which spans more than a century.
Chelsea FC began when Gus Mears purchased the Stamford Bridge athletics stadium in Fulham, West London. Mears envisioned converting the stadium into football grounds that would be the home of a club. When he offered the venue to Fulham FC, however, he was turned down.
Undeterred, he decided to begin his own club. Naming the team after the nearby borough of Chelsea, the club was officially founded on 10 March 1905. The details were finalized in a pub across from the grounds.
Soon after its formation, the club was accepted into the Football League. Within two years and promising competitive results, Chelsea was promoted to the First Division, but its growth stagnated in the following years.
It wasn’t until 1915 that the club achieved its first significant break when it made it to the FA (Football Association) Cup Finals. Though it ultimately lost, Chelsea demonstrated what it was capable of doing. Its next achievement would be placing third in the First Division in 1920.
In its first two decades, the club became known for signing some of the best players. These included Jimmy Windridge, George Hilsdon, and Bob Whittingham. The calibre of these players and the club’s rising competitive status attracted the highest average attendance in England across ten seasons.
A Large Win and Even Larger Crash
From 1920 to 1930, the team achieved nothing notable except for preserving its place in the First Division. From there, it seemed to simply exist. Things only began to change in 1961 when Tommy Docherty took over coaching duties.
Structuring an entirely new team from the club’s youth selection, Docherty continued the work of modernizing the club that Ted Drake had attempted to do as manager eight years earlier. This time, however, it appeared to be working.
During the 1964-1965 season, the club achieved its first big win—securing the League Cup (now known as the English Football League Cup). A few years later, in 1970, the team won the FA Cup and then secured the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971.
Momentum faltered in the late 1970s through 1980s after a massive redevelopment project at Stamford Bridge financially strained the club. Many of the best players were sold during this time, and the team was demoted to the Second Division.
After being sold to Ken Bates for a measly £1 and selling its home stadium to property developers, the club spiralled to the verge of being relegated to Third Division. This changed when Chelsea managed to win the Second Division Championship in the 1988-1989 season.
Skyrocketed to Stardom
In 1992, the club negotiated back ownership of Stamford Bridge. Despite failing to impress with its performance in the newly founded Premier League, it did manage to reach the FA Cup Finals in 1994.
Receiving substantial investment and purchasing new star players, the club proved its revival was more than theory. During the 1990s, it won the League Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. It ended the decade with the 2000 FA Cup title.
The club again found itself in financial trouble in the first three years of the new millennium. As a result, it was sold in 2003 to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Funnelling copious amounts of money into the club, Abramovich spent over £100 million on new talent alone.
The investment paid off, with Chelsea becoming the first club since World War II to win league championships two years in a row (2005 and 2006). These victories were followed by winning the League Cup in both 2005 and 2007 and the FA Cup in 2007.
Over the next decade, the club shined and played ruthlessly. Gaining popularity, it became a household name among fans and those looking to place bets on games through sites like casinos.com.
From 2010-2020, Chelsea won the Premier League, FA Cup Double (as well as multiple FA Cups), UEFA Championship League, UEFA Europa League (twice), and the League Cup. Added to these achievements, the club became the first team since 1963 to score more than a hundred goals during a standard league season. All this launched the club to stardom, largely thanks to its talented players and coaching staff, who worked relentlessly to become the best.
After sanctions against Chelsea owner Abramovich were raised due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, the situation quickly unravelled for the club. In March of that year, the UK government imposed sanctions, forcing the club to apply for a special license to play. This license was only granted until the end of May 2022.
Just seven days into May, the club was purchased by BlueCo for a staggering £4.5 billion, once again proving its worth. However, the change did not go down well, which was reflected on the field.
During the 2022-2023 season, Chelsea finished in the lower half of the rankings for the first time since the 1990s. It did not qualify for any European honours, winning just 11 games of the 38 played.
Although fans hope things will turn around in the 2023-2024 season, the Chelsea legacy remains one of the greatest in the Premier League and the world. Despite setbacks, its hard work and competitive successes will not be forgotten anytime soon.