John Terry's political power at Chelsea has all but evaporated. The captain's influence once extended beyond the Stamford Bridge dressing room and into the boardroom, but the year-long racism scandal which ended with a four-match ban for abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand in October last year has left the chairman Bruce Buck speaking about Terry as someone to be tolerated at the club, rather than listened to as a spokesman.
Terry's influence was held up as a major factor in the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas last season, after the manager had tried to freshen up the side while relying less on the older members of the squad. And Claude Makélélé, the former Chelsea midfielder, claimed that a row between the defender and Jose Mourinho led to the manager's exit in September 2007, after Terry had spoken to the owner, Roman Abramovich, about the pair's disagreement over his fitness.
But Buck, who is in the midst of yet another race row after the club reported the referee Mark Clattenburg to the Football Association for "inappropriate language" directed at Jon Obi Mikel, said: "Chelsea are not run by John Terry. I don't know how I can prove it to you but it's not true. My club are run by Roman Abramovich."
Buck concedes the club have a parental responsibility towards Terry and the rest of the players. And with regards to his captain's conduct, the chairman admits they have little choice but to support Terry as a player and employee, but stressed the difference between this and approval of the player's actions. He added: "I can't argue with the fact that, over the last 10 years, there have been a lot of public incidents in which Terry and Chelsea were involved. We have a duty of care to John Terry in loco parentis. Not that, if he did something wrong, we weren't going to say he didn't do anything wrong. But we have to support him as a person. That's different from saying that, no matter what Terry does, we approve.
Buck is at pains to separate the Clattenburg affair from Terry's offence. He admits the club could have handled things differently but he stands by the club's decision to notify the FA – and emphasised the fact that it was the club, rather than the players, who went to the governing body. "Looking into the players' eyes, I could see they were unhappy but no player or staff demanded that we file a complaint," Buck said. "Suppose we had tried to sweep this under the rug. If that had leaked out, we would've really been crucified."