DIRECTORS DISCUSS TERRY, COLE AND FA PROCESS

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.’

TEAM NEWS: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR V CHELSEA

With John Terry beginning a four-game suspension, Gary Cahill comes in to partner David Luiz in central defence.

Frank Lampard, meanwhile, having recovered from a calf injury, starts on the bench, with Ramires playing alongside John Mikel Obi as the two deep-lying midfielders.

Fernando Torres starts up front, while Daniel Sturridge is fit again and is named as one of our substitutes.

Chelsea are expected to line up in the following 4-2-3-1 formation:

1 Petr Cech
2 Branislav Ivanovic
4 David Luiz
26 Gary Cahill
3 Ashley Cole
12 John Mikel Obi
7 Ramires (c)
10 Juan Mata
11 Oscar
17 Eden Hazard
9 Fernando Torres

Substitutes: 22 Ross Turnbull, 28 Cesar Aspilicueta, 34 Ryan Bertrand, 6 Oriol Romeu, 8 Frank Lampard, 13 Victor Moses, 23 Sturridge.

Tottenham are expected to line up in the following 4-2-3-1 formation:

Friedel; Walker, Gallas (c), Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro, Huddlestone; Lennon, Dempsey, Sigurdsson; Defoe.

Substitutes: Lloris, Dawson, Livermore, Naughton, Falque, Townsend, Adebayor.

The referee is Mike Dean.

Follow the game via our live matches from 12.15pm

MATA: RESTED AND READY

Following a two-week break earlier in the season, Juan Mata has been in superb form since returning to the fold, but the Spanish playmaker has praised the efforts of those around him as we prepare for a massive test at Tottenham Hotspur later today.

Given his performances of late, it’s somewhat surprising that Mata was overlooked for the Spain squad ahead of their most recent games against Belarus and France.

Rather than jetting off alongside Fernando Torres with the rest of the national squad, he has spent the past fortnight training at Cobham, but while his omission was clearly disappointing on a personal note, Spain’s loss could yet prove to be Chelsea’s gain.

‘I’ve been very happy with my form in the last few games before the international break,’ he tells the official Chelsea website. ‘These two weeks have given me the opportunity to rest a little bit, so I’m feeling good and ready for the match.

‘We are enjoying our football at the moment; we are top of the league and also ahead in our Champions League group.

‘Personally, I’m very pleased with the way it’s going; we are getting some good results, but it’s not just down to me, it’s due to the work of my team-mates.’

It’s generally a feisty affair any time Chelsea and Tottenham meet, but with the White Hart Lane outfit now under the stewardship of former Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas, this one has an added edge to it.

Villas-Boas was the man responsible for luring Mata to Stamford Bridge at the beginning of last season, and the Blues playmaker has nothing but kind words for the man who helped him settle in England.

‘He was very important to me when I first arrived here and he gave me a lot of confidence so, of course, I’m very grateful,’ says Mata.

‘I haven’t seen him since he left the club but I wish him the best of luck, although not during today’s game.’

Last season’s corresponding fixture ended 1-1, with Daniel Sturridge’s strike cancelling out Emmanuel Adebayor’s opener in an entertaining fixture which both sides will feel they could have won.

Roberto Di Matteo’s side head into the game as one of only two teams – along with Manchester City – in the Premier League yet to taste defeat this season, but with Tottenham having won four on the bounce, including a 3-2 victory away at Manchester United, there is every chance we will face our toughest test of the campaign to date.

Having missed out on Champions League qualification at the last minute courtesy of our success in Munich, and with a 5-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat last April still fresh in the mind, the home fans will be desperate to gain some form of revenge.

Mata, though, who scored a controversial second goal in that Wembley mauling, is relishing putting our unbeaten run on the line in what promises to be an intimidating atmosphere.

‘I remember the game last season at White Hart Lane,’ he explains. ‘In the second half it became a bit crazy, we had some chances to win the match and I’m expecting a similar type of game tomorrow.

‘They always want to attack, particularly when they are playing at home, but we have good players on the break which means we should be able to give ourselves enough opportunities to score.

‘There is a lot of rivalry between Tottenham and Chelsea, not just the supporters, but the teams as well. The atmosphere at last season’s game was amazing, it’s difficult for us because of their supporters but it’s also good to see all of our fans packed into the corner behind the goal.’

DI MATTEO: NOT ABOUT ANDRE

Roberto Di Matteo is looking forward to a first footballing reunion with Andre Villas-Boas since replacing the Portuguese as Chelsea manager, when we travel to Tottenham on Saturday afternoon.

The Barclays Premier League match at White Hart Lane is the first time we will have come face to face with Villas-Boas since he left Chelsea in early March, and our former manager has quickly set about moulding an effective Spurs team, which has won its last four league games.

Di Matteo was of course assistant to the Portuguese, but went on to lead us to FA Cup and Champions League glory at the end of last season, and is now looking forward to an intriguing fixture in N17 before we face Shakhtar Donetsk in Europe and Manchester United back at the Bridge next weekend.

‘It’s going to be a very important week for us. We’re playing against two oppositions that are fighting for the same ambition that we have, to try to stay at the top of the Barclays Premier League,’ Di Matteo summarised, adding that he feels they are contenders for the title.

‘I think they are. I talked about United, City, ourselves, and I said Arsenal, and I said there was a surprise,’ he said, referring to pre-season predictions on the title race. Spurs are be a team that over the years established themselves in the top four, five, and are always getting closer to the top.’

Regarding Villas-Boas, Di Matteo is not surprised the 35-year-old has quickly returned to work after leaving Chelsea, but is not worrying about personal issues this afternoon.

‘He’s a bright man, a talented coach and was very successful at Porto so I’m not surprised,’ said the Italian.

‘It’s the first time we play against each other and I think my mind is more focused on the team, their players, the way they play and it’s probably the same for him. Apart from Saturday we have a very good relationship, but tomorrow we will both want to beat each other.

‘I don’t think if you get sacked it means you’re not a good coach. I don’t think it’s a measure of how good you are as a coach.’

Since taking over from Harry Redknapp, Villas-Boas has changed Tottenham’s shape to a 4-2-3-1 that mirrors Chelsea’s under Di Matteo, but the Blues manager believes the team’s styles remain different.

‘I’m not so sure we are that similar in the way that Spurs play and we play,’ he said. ‘Maybe the system of play this season is similar, the same 4-2-3-1 formation, but I wouldn’t say it’s similar the way we play.

‘Spurs are a very dangerous counter-attacking team with the pace and power they have in the team, with Bale, Lennon, Defoe, Demebele, they are all pacey players that convert a defensive situation into an attacking option.’

Without a league win at White Hart Lane since 2005, Di Matteo knows his side will have to be at its best if we are to maintain our unbeaten start to the season.

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR V CHELSEA – PART TWO

20.10.2012

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MIXED NIGHT FOR INTERNATIONAL BLUES

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