James Lawton: Open letter to Abramovich - Do you give a damn over this ugly descent?

Chelsea slip further into a fortress mentality – and a fortress of what?

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The Independent Football

Dear Roman,

Forgive the impertinence but with all the bodyguards and that expression of yours, which mostly suggests that on balance you would rather be somewhere else, even a Siberian snowdrift, a noting of some quite pressing concerns is probably the best and certainly the safest idea.

The heaviest worry is not that you are powerless to prevent your football club becoming the leading representative of all that is cheap and despicable in English football, but that there is growing evidence that you don't really give a damn.

This is certainly inherent in the most important football question anyone might put to you.

It asks how it is that, when wanting to buy some ravishing piece of modern art or seal up another large slice of the world's most valuable mineral resources, or slug it out in a London courtroom with a rival oligarch, the best, most expensive advice is so quickly sought but then, when it comes to the image of Chelsea, you seem quite content with a command team contending ever more fiercely for the title of the Doomsday Boys.

Now I know the chairman of Chelsea, the New Yorker Bruce M Buck, was a brilliant go-to man in the intricate matter of the "cross-border" financing which has made you one of the world's richest men and was instrumental in your taking possession of the dear old football club.

I also know the chief executive, Ron Gourlay, was once a big number in the selling of Umbro sports gear and that, before he became club secretary, David Barnard had 30 years of football experience, including stints at Fulham, Colchester and Wimbledon.

But it isn't really working out, at least not in the way of serenely occupying the peak of European football, is it, Roman?

You may own the Champions League title, that prize you craved so long, but does that really compensate for an aura that on the open market would scarcely invite the bid of a plugged kopek? Maybe it does, in which case there is still another cause for anxiety.

The big mystery, in the wake of the latest stinging criticism launched at your club's conduct by such heavyweights as Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger, concerns the astonishing survival rate of your top administrators.

It is not as though you preside over an organisation famous for any reluctance to lop off the most distinguished of football heads. A few bad results and the most substantial of coaches have been regularly turned into a dead man walking, but then how many public relations disasters constitute a reason for job insecurity in the rest of the building? It is getting hard to keep count.

The list of football victims, when you relate them to casualties elsewhere, is quite astonishing when you think about it.

The European and world titles of Jose Mourinho, Carlos Ancelotti and Big Phil Scolari, didn't count for much when it was deemed their time to go. Yet elsewhere within Stamford Bridge we have to wonder what quite might disturb the sea of tranquillity.

Poor young Andre Villas-Boas's carefully negotiated "project" didn't last one ill-conceived season but in the executive offices it seems that own goals can be scored with near impunity.

Manchester City, the club most closely linked with yours in the public mind, also had a powerful chief executive apparently insulated against the ebb and flow of events on and around the field, but when Garry Cook fired off an ill-advised email he was quickly shown the door.

Does this mean that Sheikh Mansour expects more of his top administrators, is more jealous of his club's image across the game, than you?

It's an unlikely idea when we remember how much investment you have made, and how vastly greater your attendance record is than that of the sheikh, but what else can we assume as Chelsea slip ever further into a fortress mentality – and a fortress of what?

It is, Roman, one that appears to be filled with absolute indifference to the concept of cause and effect.

Your club says it will track down and ban characters like the one who appeared to direct a monkey gesture at United’s Danny Welbeck, and it puts at risk the career of a brilliant young referee on evidence that looks to be hair-raisingly thin, while at the same time refusing even to question the status of John Terry, the hero captain currently serving a ban for racist abuse.

If you see the point of the criticism, Roman, we do not have a shred of evidence of your concern and this, maybe, is how you like it because, the more time wears on, the more you look so impassively at the tide of events which includes severe criticism of how the club secretary – we assume with approval from above – assembled evidence in the Terry case, the larger is the sense of someone responding only to his own imperatives.

You might just care to put us right but the overwhelming impression is of someone who has reason to believe he can buy anything he deems important.

But what of the rest, what of that quaint old urge to win respect as well as silver, to establish a good name not only for your wealth and your power but also your instincts?

I shall not be rushing to check my post, but you really need to start producing an answer or two if any of this is worth more than one those plastic bath toys you made in a Moscow apartment when all your wealth was still to be won. The truth is that even if Chelsea are champions of Europe, they still too often have the look of a decidedly ugly and ultimately worthless duckling.

Yours in sport,

James Lawton

Faldo's words should be heeded by McIlroy

Rory McIlroy certainly did not lack incentive for a switch from Titleist to Nike clubs, all £155m of it over 10 years, but if the world and much of its wealth appear to be at his feet he might still be wise to listen to old crosspatch Sir Nick Faldo.

Faldo's wisdom rating suffered something of a slump when he was Ryder Cup captain four years ago but few speak more bitingly on the subject of fighting to No 1 ranking – and then hanging on to it.

He once said: "People don't understand that the easy part is getting to the top. Staying there is the biggest challenge."

At 23, and with two majors, McIlroy has compelling reason to believe that he has already learnt the hard lessons, but maybe he should reflect on Faldo's latest advice.

"Every manufacturer will tell you they can copy your clubs but there is a feel and a sound and a confidence, and you can't put a value on that. It's priceless," he says.

It is an insight that McIlroy shouldn't forget, reinforced by a number of club changes – and the British record of six major titles.

Armstrong effigy set for Bonfire of the Insanities

Tom Wolfe once wrote a brilliant novel about a disordered American society. The title was The Bonfire of the Vanities.

He may consider Edenbridge, Kent, a suitable new workplace.

The local bonfire society announces proudly that it will burn in effigy disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Jimmy Savile was apparently the front-running contender but in the end it was decided that, with so many children present, this might be inappropriate. Instead the 30-foot figure of Armstrong will display a Jim'll Fix It badge.

Last year Mario Balotelli was the selection and in 2010 it was Wayne Rooney. At that time a spokesman said, "I hate football and I don't mind seeing a footballer burnt."

Wolfe would not want for a title. Bonfire of the Insanities would surely do the job.