Poll: Chelsea FC losing in off-pitch image stakes

Chelsea Football Club has a poorer image than its three main Premiership rivals - Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United - according to a PRWeek survey.

Seventy-six per cent of those polled believe the club has bought success rather than earned it.

Forty-six per cent of Chelsea fans believe the club's image has worsened since Abramovich became owner three years ago, while 53 per cent believe Chelsea is now beyond the control of the Football Association.

‘The team will automatically be considered arrogant because of the money it has,' said John Dolan, acting sports editor of London Lite, adding: ‘They can't seem to understand when to shut up.

‘Fans aren't mugs, the "Gallas own-goal story" was an own-goal for Chelsea.

'Chelsea earlier this month claimed defender William Gallas (now at Arsenal) made the threat unless allowed to leave. ‘Chelsea have made some mistakes,' said The Independent chief football writer Sam Wallace. ‘But they are trying to break into an elite group of clubs that have had it their own way for a long time. That's not easy, however rich you are.'

Opinion Matters undertook the poll of 1,089 adults.

CHELSEA'S RESPONSE

Simon Greenberg, director of comms, Chelsea FC: 

‘In the period analysed, there were several controversial stories that have skewed the findings, so it is not a true reflection of the situation. If this had been done a month earlier during our pre-season US tour, the results would have been overwhelmingly positive.

‘We would probably have handled certain difficult situations differently, but with the dynamics of our club, and the competitiveness of football and the media, it is unrealistic to expect a smooth ride.'

‘Roman Abramovich has had a positive effect on English football. He helped break the duopoly that many would argue had stagnated the Premiership. Our transfer fees have filtered through football and have helped at least two Premiership clubs which had been in serious financial trouble. We try to satisfy as many global player-interview requests as possible. In terms of exposure, there are not many clubs that do as many interviews as we do.

‘I think the "embattled mindset" is a media creation that suits their aggressive agenda. It might suit our playing agenda at times, and we wouldn't be the first club to use that to our advantage, but given our ambitions, we do not adopt this as an over-arching approach.

‘I am confident that in the long term, people will judge us in a fair and balanced way.'

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