Gudjohnsen tells of pre-Abramovich 'crisis' at Bridge

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The 27-year-old Icelandic international, who is likely to continue in his newfound midfield role against Charlton tomorrow, describes how Chelsea's then managing director Trevor Birch came into the dressing room before the last game of the 2002-03 season, at home to Liverpool. Birch, shaking with nerves, emphasised how vital it was to earn the victory that would take them into the Champions' League.

"Trevor basically said: 'Boys, if we don't win this, it is the difference between staying a big club or going into financial difficulties and having to sell players and being a mediocre club'," said Gudjohnsen, who played his part in a crucial 2-1 victory that day.

"It did shock me a little bit. It was the first time I realised the club was in financial difficulties. As if there wasn't enough pressure on that game, it added a little bit more.

"But in the space of about 30 days, Mr Abramovich had bought Chelsea and we were one of the richest clubs in the world."

Gudjohnsen played down reports that the club was considering a move to Earls Court to accommodate its growing number of supporters. "I think they are rubbish, really. But this is not something we as players are involved in."

A club statement yesterday said: "Only after all possible scenarios for the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge are exhausted can a debate start about other options."

Gudjohnsen insisted there would be no element of revenge at Stamford Bridge today even though Charlton were the last team to beat Chelsea, having knocked them out of the Carling Cup on penalties.

"We don't look back on it as a horrible defeat," Gudjohnsen said. "Disappointing, yes. But we have got bigger things to think about."