Open Letter To The Independent

The following is an open letter, sent today, the the editor of the Independent newspaper regarding their front page headline on John Terry. ie: “Captain, Leader, Legend, Racist

The CSG felt the headline was grossly misleading and damaging to John Terry, Chelsea Football Club and it’s supporters……

Dear Sir (? Mr Blackhurst), 

On September 28th the front page of the Independent carried a picture of John Terry with the headline “Captain, Leader, Legend, Racist”. This was just not a slanderous attack on Chelsea’s captain, it was a deliberate and calculated insult to Chelsea Football Club and to hundreds of thousands of Chelsea supporters both in Britain and abroad.

We wish to bring the following points to your attention.

1. John Terry was acquitted by a court of law of a “racially aggravated” public order offence. He was then charged by the Football Association with using abusive language and also of using a word which referred to colour or race.

2. In its written verdict on the case, published on October 5th, the FA Regulatory Commission makes the following statement – Paragraph 3.4:

“It is not the FA’s case that Mr. Terry is a racist. There is a large body of testimonial evidence, including statements from black footballers, to say that he is not.”

3. In its conclusions on the case the Commission states – Paragraph 9.5 (iv):

“It is accepted by everyone involved in the criminal and disciplinary proceedings that Mr. Terry is not a racist.”

4. It is therefore quite wrong to accuse John Terry of racism, let alone brand him as a racist as your front page headline did, using red ink just in case anyone might miss it. This is not simply a matter of an opinion or a choice of words.

5. This is something you must have been well aware of before publishing your headline. After the  Football Association announced the summary verdict – on the afternoon of September 27th, well before the Independent went to press – Lord Herman Ouseley was interviewed by Richard Bacon of the BBC about the case. Lord Ouseley, as you presumably know, was formerly chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and now heads Kick It Out, the official anti-racist campaign in football. During this BBC interview Lord Ouseley stated:

“This isn’t about John Terry being a racist. And clearly no one should be accusing, and no one has accused, John Terry of that.”

6. We do not know what John Terry intends to do about your slanderous headline; that is obviously a matter for him and for his legal advisers. However, the banner about John Terry – “Captain. Leader. Legend” – is prominently displayed by supporters at Stamford Bridge, with the agreement of the Club. It is familiar nationally and internationally through television coverage. It has become a hallmark of the Club. To caricature this banner by adding the word “racist” as you did, and highlight it as well, can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to denigrate us and damage our reputation as well as John Terry.

7. Chelsea Football Club is proud of its reputation on and off the field, as are its supporters, including our reputation for opposing racism. It is probably the most multicultural professional football club in Britain, and possibly in Europe. Sixteen years ago Chelsea Football Club appointed the first black manager in the Premier League. It employs black people at every level – security staff, administrative staff, playing staff and management, including Technical Director. It also has supporters of every creed and colour, not just in Britain, but right round the world.

8. The Chelsea Supporters Group is one of several organisations set up to represent the interests of supporters, both to the Club and in general. We know these other groups share our resentment and disgust at this insult to the Club and its supporters. We now call on you to withdraw your allegation and to publish an apology, giving this apology similar prominence to your headline of September 28th – ie on the front page .

9. Copies of this letter are being sent to the Press Complaints Commission, the Football Association, Kick It Out, Chelsea Football Club, and to John Terry’s legal advisers. It will also be published on our website.

Yours sincerely

CSG Committee

The FA ruling can be found here:


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27 thoughts on “Open Letter To The Independent

  • Chelsea Ces

    You might want to think about spelling IndependEnt correctly
    Yours sincerely
    The grammar police

    • Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention!
      Well done, you passed 🙂

    • Sir Cecil

      Better to spell it BINdependent.

  • Lizzes brother

    Well said…

  • Sir Cecil

    It’s time supporters were more proactive and used live coverage of games to protest the media. A couple of extremely large and pertinent banners for a worldwide audience, naming and shaming the liars and hate-mongers of the press would be a good start. Use their own media to spread word of the contempt real supporters have for them. I’m in the USA or I’d be the first to get involved. Don’t waste time preaching the message to a few online punters… get it out there to the worldwide audience. Don’ just praise players in banners… every club does that… play them at their own game with clever, legal and accurately damaging messages that shame them in front of the very audiences and players they feed off. Do it. Tell the press you’ve had enough, but tell them in a way that actually bothers them. Don’t you know some copywriters who can put together well-crafted lines that would make those reporters and their editors LAUGHING STOCKS?
    If you can’t do something like that, don’t waste time sending them letters. It just makes THEM laugh.

  • Bluebrain

    I had thought that the Independent would have been above this sort of sub-gutter-level rhetoric, but obviously their ill educated sensationalism (driven no doubt by their embittered quest to stay relevant in today’s e-media world together with their grubbing lust for our money) proves me wrong.
    I am prepared to accept political bias in a newspaper; I am not prepared to accept cheap bandwagon shots at easy targets in a gross and contemptible effort to increase sales. I want the newspaper I buy to have class, integrity and, at the very least, a modicum of intelligence.
    I will no longer buy The Independent.

  • Be happy to – suggestions please?

  • Very nice initiative. English media is a joke. That headline was a direct insult to millions of Chelsea fans around the globe. That joke newspaper owes an apology to JT, CFC & most importantly to us fans.

  • Sir Cecil

    Here’s one…
    Show a huge INDEPENDENT (or Sun or Mirror or whichever) , and add the sub-line (in the style of “Captain, Leader, Legend”), “The Trash, The Whole Trash and Nothing but the Trash”.
    Let it be seen behind the goal on every goal replay throughout the world. Better still, have a hundred of them all over the ground.

    • quite like that – too late for tomorrow’s game but we’ll make a few phone calls

      • Sir Cecil

        Strike while the iron is hot. Tomorrow the message will be more meaningful and more likely to be effective. After the international break it will be less so.

    • JJ Ferro

      Great idea it would be a great way to shame the press. For some reason unknown to me in Gibraltar, the british media seem to dislike our Chelsea

  • I think the CFC should ban Independent Newspaper reporters from Stamford Bridge and other CFC facilities at least until an apology is received.

    • Sir Cecil

      Unfortunately, the media has all the power thanks to the TV contracts that stipulate an almost red carpet treatment for them. Sky and their newspaper pals are all one of a kind. Better if the FANS show their displeasure – that’s the media’s target audience. But it has to be organized and CONSISTENT to have effect. Even forgetting the Terry business, a concerted COMBINED protest by SEVERAL clubs would be marvelous. Liverpool fans, for example HATE The Sun. A non-partizan group of different clubs’ supporters should get together so the worst liars of the press have their publications (and their writers names) displayed IN DISGRACE for the worldwide audience to see. Every time a goal is scored and the replays are shown over and over, behind the goal is the message… not obscene or confrontational or detrimental to the image of the club, but wholly dismissive of the vile English media that feeds off its betters.

      • Bluebrain

        As a Chelsea fan and more importantly as a football fan, since the Sun appalled everyone over Hillsborough, I have refused to buy or even read it. I have also explained to everone I know who has bought the Sun why it is such a waste of paper, and am proud to say I’ve converted a few people into not buying it.
        The rest of the British media is not much better, to be honest, but at least it has never stooped that low.
        Increasingly the matter is in our own hands though. For me, the flag idea is excellent.
        We can get also get the news on the net from any number of foreign sources.
        So, quite simply, NEVER buy a British newspaper again. Take a book on the train, Buy a Kindle and get free books (and in about 9 months you’ll be saving money).
        Vote with your pockets. After all, they dont care whether you agree with them, they dont even give a toss whether you read them – all they want is your money.

    • Sir Cecil

      The sly Sam Wallace in particular. He is a particularly vile bottom-feeder, almost attaining the low-level of The Mail’s gutter-dweller Lawton. in my own, personal and humble opinion of course.

  • Great letter and while you’re at it change the name of the paper to any other that has called JT a racist. I think the Daily Star said that he was a “Racist yob” on their front page last week.

  • I think Daniel Taylor of The Guardian merits special attention

  • Mark Boswood

    Great letter

  • Well said , This FA debacle has affected the wider family of Chelsea FC, we the fans feel let down by the press and the way they print untruths and scandalize issues without due thought to those involved……i was incensed by this headline and sent a copy to the press complaints too…. using our Captains banner that we are proud to have in Stamford bridge was an absolute disgrace……
    I hope John sues for all its worth …

  • Sir Cecil

    And have you read James Lawton’s absolutely disgraceful latest rants against club and players?
    Below is his picture –what witch-hunter face and vile writing could better inspire a creative banner:

  • Basford

    Good initiative. I have been gobsmacked just how many times the club has bent over and taken it fom the fa (small minded, small letters) and the gutter press in this country. Not sure if it started with Simon Greenturd but thats when the club seemed to at its meekest? Good idea above about a joint clubs initiative involving supporters groups of other clubs also. Too late for something visual protesting against this individual paper to be organised for the Norwich game, but in the near future something along the lines of the RIP Ossie placards at WBA would be excellent as the effect of that was superb.

  • Dean1905

    Why don’t we have a wall of shame banner hung on the wall at the shed/west stand end in the style of a newspaper. Which we list all the liars not just papers but people like Mr Piers Morgan and anyone else who jumps in with their 10 pence worth of lies. Before I forget put the FA top!

  • cedric molestrangler

    I am sure other fans of other clubs feel the same way as we do, the only way to deal with the media is if all clubs and fans got together and gave some stick back.
    the best way to hurt these ‘people?’ (I prefer scum)is in their pockets, I stopped reading the trash years ago I suggest you all do the same….

  • Its a great response and a big thank you from myself, and i think speaking on behalf of all CSG supporters for putting this complaint together . JT must have incredible mental strengh to endure all this gutter press at the moment and i admire him all the more for it. We know he has said and acted wrong, but then, who in this life has`nt at one time or another ! ( yes, even you gutter journalists )but this current campaign is nothing more than a witch-hunt against anything Chelsea and we are so right to stand up against it … i do try to console myself with the fact that today`s news is tomorrow`s chip-paper, but it still hurts like hell to read this crap .. best wishes, lets hope we get a result ..

  • I have to say I was disappointed with Ashley Cole’s tweet about the FA.

    The absence in it of the words “incompetent” and “not fit for purpose” was most remiss and I hope the club take him to task for it.

    All based on the balance of probabilities and their past record it has to be said.

  • Could you let Gary Lineker know that he should be all right on his controversial recent “grass” comments.

    Any “independent” panel would, after weighing up all probablities, and taking into account his previous record and demeanour, would come to the conclusion he wouldn’t have said what he did say.

    Got that?

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