Chairman Bruce Buck and Chief Executive Ron Gourlay spoke on national UK radio station Talksport on Saturday morning and announced that John Terry will retain the club captaincy.
The directors also issued an apology on behalf of Chelsea Football Club to Anton Ferdinand’s family.
Answering questions in the wake of Terry’s decision not to appeal the FA judgment this week, it was revealed the player had been fined a record amount by Chelsea.
‘John will continue to be captain of the club,’ said Buck. ‘We are not going to suspend him for any additional matches to the four the FA have suspended him for, but we have taken disciplinary action we think is firm and appropriate.
‘In setting that appropriate level we have kept in line with a criminal court finding him not guilty. Of course we note the FA decision and we certainly respect that decision. We have consulted with the owner Mr Abramovich and discussed it over a long period of time.’
Gourlay added: ‘We have come down on John very heavily.
‘We have taken into account the punishment from the FA when he was fined heavily and given a four-match ban and the club still felt the need to sanction more.
‘John has played over 550 times for the football club and he has captained the side over 400 times and led the club tremendously well through these games, so we believe it was a lapse in judgment and was out of character. But he did fall below the high standards we expect. John let himself down and the club down and the words were inappropriate. We feel that we have dealt with this.’
Buck said that when considering what appropriate action to take, it was very important to remember that both the magistrate at the criminal court and the three-person FA commission very clearly and unequivocally said Terry is not a racist.
The chairman was asked if the action taken against Terry is different from that against fans who use inappropriate language at a match.
‘We have a policy that we do ban fans for life if they are convicted in a criminal court of law,’ he responded. ‘If not, we will take some other action like barring them from the stadium for a period of time.
‘With John Terry, he wasn’t convicted in a criminal court of law and we have a lot more different kinds of action we can take against him as distinguished from a fan that might do something inappropriate in the stadium.’
Apology to Ferdinand Family:
Buck explained he sat near Anton Ferdinand’s family throughout the case in the magistrates court.
‘I could see the effect it was having on them and it wasn’t good. We understand what they have gone through and Chelsea Football Club would like to apologise to them. It has been a very difficult year for them. They haven’t done anything wrong and they shouldn’t be suffering.
‘John Terry has apologised to everybody and in my mind that should mean an apology to Anton Ferdinand.’
On the FA disciplinary process:
The report issued following the FA commission hearing contained criticism of Chelsea’s Club Secretary David Barnard. It referred to the handling of Ashley Cole’s witness statement. The club believes the criticism to be grossly unfair, Gourlay and Buck said in today’s interview.
‘We feel strongly David Barnard was wrongly maligned in the panel’s report and he was not afforded the opportunity to answer the questions they had,’ said Gourlay.
‘We believe the commission should apologise.’
Buck explained: ‘In just about every civil or criminal litigation there are a variety of witness statements and the way those statements are prepared are the witness, the advisor and lawyer draft those statements and it goes through multiple drafts.
‘What is different in an FA proceeding is the FA provide the first draft. They interviewed Ashley and prepared a draft and sent it to the club secretary, as is very common in these proceedings. That was then sent to Ashley Cole and his lawyer and they had some comments and revisions and sent them back to David Barnard who sent them to the FA.
‘He was not involved in a substantive way in the process and a club secretary never is. He was merely a conduit for Ashley Cole and his lawyer to respond to the daft witness statement prepared by the FA.
‘What surprises me is that on the FA panel were two lawyers and I don’t understand how they did not understand the normal process. We are 100 per cent supportive of David Barnard in this situation, he has been a club secretary for 30 to 35 years and he is a stickler for the rules. He would not bend the rules. The way the witness statement was prepared was perfectly appropriate.’
On Cole’s Tweet:
Ashley Cole was fined by the FA this week for a comment made on Twitter and while expressing surprise at the size of the fine in light of the player’s immediate contrition, Buck and Gourlay confirmed on Talksport that Chelsea has also disciplined the player.
‘Cole’s tweet was inappropriate,’ said Gourlay. ‘We have a social media policy and he has contravened that and there has been an internal disciplinary process. Ashley apologised at the time and to the FA personally and he understands he did wrong.
‘The discipline we carried out sends a message to the other players. We want to encourage engagement with our fans through social media but at the same time we need to control that and in this circumstance the policy was breached.’
On looking to the future:
Gourlay said: ‘We have tried very hard as a football club to stay focused throughout the last year and continue to do good things on the field and off the field.’
Gourlay admitted that despite winning the Champions League for the first time, the club had been affected by the Terry case over the past 12 months.
‘Performances on the field since last March have been very good and we have continued to do a lot of good work off the field with our CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] campaigns around the world. But it has been a difficult period for the club and has probably clouded the most successful period in our history.
‘The other players have been supportive of John throughout the process but it does tell us that for all the hard work we have done, we have to continue it and we are fully committed to kicking all forms of discrimination out of the game.’
Buck added: ‘We would like to draw a line under this but that doesn’t mean we want to forget it.
‘In fact we want to remember it. We know the Ferdinand family will remember it, we know John Terry will remember it and the media will remember it – and we will also and we will have to do further work.’
Gourlay said: ‘We all have to work together.
‘We have sat down with our players and understand the responsibility the game has and Chelsea plays a major part in that. We have to continue to put this situation right and this has shown us we must continue to work very hard.’