Chelsea FC chief executive Ron Gourlay held a conference call Wednesday afternoon to preview a four-game summer tour across the United States. I asked him about the club’s relationship with the Sounders and Seattle having been here three times since 2004.
“The facilities are fabulous,” Gourlay said. “The people here at Seattle, (majority owner Joe Roth), and (senior vice president of business operations) Gary Wright is a very, very special man. He understands the needs of a club like Chelsea and they’ve delivered on all aspects for us. The fan base here has been incredibly supportive the both times we’ve been here previously. We’re expecting over 55,000 at the game this evening. Considering we were here just a few years ago, it’s a great base.
“The facilities are second to none; they’ve got world-class facilities here and it’s all about the preparation for the team. We’ve felt very, very comfortable here on both occasions. When we’ve been here in the past, we’ve gone on to win the Premiership the year after, so it’s special for us. I’m not putting any more pressure on (Roberto Di Matteo), the coach, but that’s the situation. It’s an exceptional way for us to start our preseason planning.”
Gourlay estimated about 5,000 to 6,000 fans showed up for Chelsea’s open training session Tuesday night at CenturyLink Field.
He also indicated the Blues might continue to make America a regular preseason stop.
“The U.S. is undoubtedly the best place for us to prepare for the season,” Gourlay said. “It’s second to none when it comes down to facilities. The opposition can be as strong as we want it to be. There are a number of top European clubs and MLS clubs, who are improving all the time. They give us the competition that we need.”