On Saturday morning, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Ron Gourlay sat down for an interview with TalkSport in the club’s first step to rebuild an image tarnished by the John Terry racial abuse case.
Buck issued an apology on behalf of the club to Anton Ferdinand and his family saying:
“The press mentioned quite a bit yesterday that Anton Ferdinand was not mentioned specifically in the John Terry apology. John Terry apologised to everybody and, in my mind, that should mean an apology to Anton Ferdinand.
“In the criminal court, I sat a few seats away over the four days from Anton Ferdinand’s family – his father, his mother and one of his siblings. I could see the effect it was having on them and it wasn’t good.
“I understand, and as a club we understand, what they have gone through since a year ago. Chelsea football club would like to apologise to them. It’s been a very difficult year for them and they didn’t do anything wrong. They shouldn’t be suffering and we’re sorry.”
Gourlay also tied to explain why John Terry is still Chelsea’s captain saying:
“What you’ve got to take into consideration as well is that John’s played over 550 times for the football club, he’s captained the side over 400 times, he’s led the club and the team tremendously well during these games.
“We believe this was an error of judgment, it was out of character for John. He did fall below the high standards we expect at the club. The language used on the day, whatever the context, was wrong. We’ve come down on John very, very heavily.
“We are not sweeping this under the carpet. We have had to deal with this for the last 12 months. John let himself down, he let the club down, the words were inappropriate that he used.”
Asked if Chelsea should have sacked Terry to send a clear signal that the club takes a zero tolerance stance on racism, Gourlay said:
“We haven’t tolerated the language that John Terry used. We’ve said it was not acceptable and we have taken action.
“We don’t believe for one minute that John is a racist and we must not forget that he was cleared in a court of law. We have taken action and we hope it gives out a clear signal that it is not acceptable.
“We know that not everybody is going to agree with this decision but we have tried to focus on improving and on doing better. The club is disappointed, the player is disappointed we are all disappointed and we have got to put things right.”
While it is pretty common for owners or GM’s to go on talk shows in the U.S., it is still a very rare occurrence in the Premier League, especially with one of the big clubs. That Buck and Gourlay took the time to go on Talksport shows what the effect that the 12-month Terry case has had on the public image of Chelsea.
Instead of talking about being the Champions of Europe and potential World Football Club Champions, the coverage of the club has been predominately negative this season which is a direct indication of the damage the Terry case has had on Chelsea FC.