Blues want to go ‘where the power is’

CHELSEA could make a renewed attempt to join the powerful G14 group of Europe’s biggest clubs after being knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona.

The defeat, following a 1-1 draw in the Nou Camp, has forced the club to re-focus on how to force their way into the world elite and have a greater say in the future of the sport.

Chelsea were hoping that victory in the Champions League and a renewed attempt to break markets in the Far East and in America would be enough to ensure their place at football’s top table in future.

But the defeat not only leaves manager Jose Mourinho considering how to make a bigger impact in Europe next season but also highlights how Barcelona, with their history and stature, have a more powerful voice in world football than their rivals despite the never-ending pockets of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea have been linked for years with a move to join G14, the powerful alliance of clubs - including Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal - who seek to influence the running of football having registered in Brussels as a European Economic Interest Group.

Chief executive Peter Kenyon has said they have the “stature” to join but has always shied away from explaining why Chelsea remain on the outside. But now manager Mourinho has indicated membership could be beneficial.

He said: “Maybe we have a chance if the G14 becomes G15 and we go there where the power is. We could speak to them and give our point of view because when you are not there you need to wait for a bit longer to get the same status that other teams have.”

In fact, there are 18 teams in the G14, with Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen, Olympique Lyonnais and Valencia joining in 2002, but there are no current plans to extend it.

A spokesman for G14 would only say: “We are not talking to Chelsea or to anyone else at the moment.”

Even that statement gives an indication of how difficult it could be for Chelsea to break into football’s ruling elite, and the situation has been the subject of reported tension in the past - even if G14 claim they have a healthy relationship with the London club and have never actually received an application for membership.

The truth is G14 is a private club, one that requires an invitation rather than an application, and for one reason or another Chelsea and their infinite financial resources are not seen as a welcome addition to the party.

On the pitch, however, Chelsea are confident their Champions League breakthrough will come eventually, however painful the last three seasons have been - losing two semi-finals and Wednesday’s last-16 tie.

Blues captain John Terry said: “I’m gutted. I didn’t think the feelings could get any worse, but they have. Year after year we keep getting knocked out and the feeling is getting worse. I’m devastated to go out, but we have to go again. The title is far from over and there is also The FA Cup. We definitely want to win that as well, that’s our target.

“As for Europe, we’ll give it a go again next time. We say it year after year but and I’m getting deja-vu but I don’t want to feel this way next year.

“I think we’re destined to win it at some stage. When you look at the ambition of Mr Abramovich, the manager and certainly the players, and you look at how devastated everyone is to go out, then you can see that. We’re very determined to go on and win the Champions League and hopefully it will come sooner rather than later.”

In the meantime, Chelsea’s focus must turn to domestic matters and a match against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. It seems churlish to say that a League and Cup double is a consolation prize for Mourinho’s side, but it is very much in their hands and there is still a chance to create history at home if not abroad.

Terry said: “What happens now is that we pick ourselves up, like we had to do last year, and go again in the Premiership. We have to do that. We need six more wins now to do it.

“Man United picked up a last minute winner on Monday and it’s still not over. It’s in our hands but the FA Cup and Premiership are important.

“It would be very special for the players to do the double and I think we deserve it for the way we played this season. But there is still a lot of games to go and a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

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