Stadium & Museum Tours Book now >
Club history

1980s Summary

Stamford Bridge stadium, 1984

Geoff Hurst (1979-81)
John Neal (1981-85)
John Hollins (1985-88)
Bobby Campbell (1988-91)
View Former Manager Profiles>

Teetering under the weight of debt and failure on the pitch, the board sold Chelsea Football Club for one pound to a businessman and vice-chairman of Wigan Athletic, Ken Bates, on Friday 2 April 1982, ending a 77-year connection with the founding Mears family. 

In fact Gus’s descendants still controlled the freehold on the land under Stamford Bridge. Having failed to reach agreement with them to unite club and ground, Bates was hurled into a draining 10-year battle against housing developers to retain the club’s ancestral home. 

Despite the threat of extinction, fortunes soon picked up on the playing side. New manager John Neal redeemed himself after almost dropping to the third tier for the first time in the club’s history in 1983, by securing promotion back to the top flight in electrifying fashion the following season. 

Shrewdly-bought players such as Eddie Niedzwiecki, Kerry Dixon, Pat Nevin, David Speedie (signed a year earlier than the others) and Nigel Spackman joined superior homegrowns including Colin Pates and John Bumstead to form the heart of a side that would twice finish in the top six of Division One with dynamic, attacking football.

A new commercial era entered football: Chelsea’s first shirt sponsor in 1983 was Gulf Air. Less positively, the popular rampant lion badge was consigned to history for trademark reasons three years later.

English football was banned from Europe after the Heysel disaster, and Bates’s idea to replace lost revenue was the Full Members Cup. Chelsea beat Manchester City in the thrilling 1986 final that ended 5-4. A grand day out for 68,000 fans at Wembley also brought silverware for the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet, not opened since 1971.

Neal’s grave illness saw assistant coach and 1970s legend John Hollins step up. Key players left, Chelsea’s results dipped and in March 1988 Bates’s friend Bobby Campbell was called in with the club 16th in the table. The new manager was unable to stave off a unique relegation through a First Division/Second Division play-off system. Thankfully, inspired by new skipper Graham Roberts and his record 12 penalty successes, the Blues charged back at the first attempt with an astonishing 99 points.


Spirit Of The Age

1984 was the year of the Yuppies – ‘young, upwardly-mobile professional people’ much-derided for dressing like posh grandparents, splashing cash ostentatiously and barking ‘sell!’ into mobile phones the size of a wardrobe. 

Key Players

Kerry Dixon scores against Arsenal as Chelsea return to the big time in 1984

Pat Nevin (1983-1988)
Kerry Dixon (1983-1992)
David Speedie (1982-87)
Clive Walker (1975-84)
View Former Player Profiles>

Clive Walker with the ball in front of the Shed, 1982

Paul Canoville (1981-86)
John Bumstead (1976-91)
Eddie Niedzwiecki (1983-88)
Colin Pates (1979-88)
View Former Player Profiles>

Key Matches : 1980-1989



1980s Matchday Programme Cover


Players of the 1980s

Player Years Total Apps Total Goals
BEASANT, Dave1989-931570
BODLEY, Mickey1985-8981
BOROTA, Petar1979-821140
BRITTON, Ian1971-82279+1034
BUMSTEAD, John1976-91379+3044
BURLEY, Craig1989-97105+3211
CANOVILLE, Paul1981-8667+3615
CHIVERS, Gary1978-83143+54
CLARE, Jimmy1977-810+10
CLARKE, Steve1987-98407+1410
COADY, John1986-8810+93
CUNDY, Jason1988-9256+12
DAVIES, Gordon1984-8513+26
DICKENS, Alan1989-9346+94
DIGWEED, Perry1988-8830
DIXON, Kerry1983-92413+7193
DODDS, Billy1986-890+50
DORIGO, Tony1987-9118012
DRIVER, Phil1980-8325+214
DROY, Mickey1970-85302+1119
DUBLIN, Keith1983-8766+20
DURIE, Gordon1986-91145+863
ELMES, Timmy1980-812+20
FALCO, Mark1982-8230
FILLERY, Michael1978-83176+541
FRANCIS, Steve1981-87880
FREESTONE, Roger1987-91530
FRIDGE, Les1985-8710
FROST, Lee1976-8012+35
GODDEN, Tony1986-87380
HALES, Kevin1979-8325+22
HALL, Gareth1986-96148+235
HARRIS, Ron1961-80784+1114
HAY, David1974-80118+23
HAZARD, Micky1985-9094+912
HITCHCOCK, Kevin1988-01131+40
HOLLINS, John1963-75 & 1983-8459264
HOWARD, Terry1984-8760
HUDSON, Alan1968-74 & 1983-84188+114
HUTCHINGS, Chris1980-8397+43
ILES, Bob1978-83140
ISAAC, Robert1983-87130
JASPER, Dale1982-8613+20
JOHNSEN, Erland1989-97170+131
JOHNSON, Gary1977-8018+49
JOHNSTONE, Derek1983-851+30
JONES, Joey1982-8589+22
JONES, Keith1983-8757+1210
LANGLEY, Tommy1974-80139+1343
LE SAUX, Graeme1987-93 & 1997-03280+3216
LEE David1988-98148+4613
LEE, Colin1980-87200+2341
LOCKE, Gary1972-83315+24
MATTHEW, Damian1989-9419+80
MAYES, Alan1980-8371+524
McALLISTER, Kevin1985-91101+3913
McANDREW, Tony1982-84234
McLAUGHLIN, Joe1983-892687
McNAUGHT, John1986-8712+12
MILLAR, John1984-87110
MITCHELL, David1988-9180
MONKOU, Ken1989-92117+22
MURPHY, Jerry1985-88393
NEVIN, Pat1983-88237+545
NICHOLAS, Peter1988-9192+12
NIEDZWIECKI, Eddie1983-881750
NUTTON, Michael1977-8381+20
PATES, Colin1979-88345+110
PHILLIPS, John1970-801490
RHOADES-BROWN, Peter1979-8497+125
ROBERTS, Graham1988-908322
ROBSON, Bryan ‘Pop’1982-8312+55
ROFE, Dennis1980-8261+20
ROUGVIE, Doug1984-871003
SHEARER, Duncan1983-8621
SITTON, John1977-8012+20
SPACKMAN, Nigel1983-87 & 1992-96254+1314
SPARROW, John1974-8168+62
SPEEDIE, David1982-87197+864
STUART, Graham1989-9389+2118
THOMAS, Mickey1984-8553+111
VILJOEN, Colin1980-8222+10
WALKER, Clive1975-84191+3365
WEGERLE, Roy1986-8818+104
WEST, Colin1985-908+84
WICKS, Steve1974-79 & 1986-88163+18
WILKINS, Graham1972-82148+11
WILLIAMS, Paul1980-8310
WILSON, Clive1987-9085+185
WILSON, Kevin1987-92155+3655
WILSON, Kevin1987-92155+3655
WOOD, Darren1984-89167+114

Latest news

Watch the latest Blues News headlines with Fan Club...

Watch now >