Chelsea have endured a chaotic couple of weeks, with the Government’s sanctioning of Blues owner Roman Abramovich having turned the club upside down.
The Champions League winners are up for sale for around £2bn, with today having marked the deadline for bids to be submitted, and are subject to strict conditions about how they are able to operate until a deal is completed.
A tweak to the Government’s regulations means the Chelsea squad are expected to be able to fly to Teesside for tomorrow’s game after all, but a freeze on the sale of tickets means there will be fewer than 700 away fans in the Riverside, with the Blues having withdrawn their initial request for the game to be played behind-closed-doors.
Chelsea’s suggestion that Middlesbrough fans should also be prevented from attending was met with an impassioned response from Steve Gibson earlier in the week, and Wilder feels too much has been made of the supposed difficulties facing Thomas Tuchel and his side as a result of the Government’s intervention.
“I agree with the sanctions,” said Wilder. “I think everybody understands that and why they were put in place. For me, the noise that’s been coming out of it is misguided.
“The club is not in jeopardy, is it? It’s not a situation like a Macclesfield or a Bury that we’ve seen in the football pyramid. Those things shouldn’t have happened.
“This is an iconic football club, but if we all know our football, we know what position they were in 25 years ago or so. It’s the same with Manchester City. I remember playing those clubs in the late 80s, and they’ve been transformed.
“Somebody comes into your football club, invests hundreds of millions of pounds, and turns it into the club that Chelsea is today – serial trophy-winning teams, world-class managers and players, world-class infrastructure, a women’s team that wins everything, a youth team and academy that is the best in the country and wins the Youth Cup.
“It’ll go up for sale, and it’ll be bought by a billionaire, who will possibly invest even more money into it.
“In the football world, I don’t think there’s an incredible amount of sympathy over what’s happening really. I don’t think Chelsea supporters would expect that either. It’ll be a short period before the takeover, and Chelsea will go again and go from strength to strength.”
When news of Chelsea’s initial request to have all supporters banned broke on Tuesday, Wilder said he would have refused to attend the game himself if Boro fans have been prevented from taking up their seats in the home stands.
Thankfully, sanity prevailed, but Wilder feels the situation would not have escalated in the manner it did if Tuchel had been consulted on Chelsea’s stance instead of the decision being made by unnamed members of the club’s hierarchy.
“Maybe if Thomas, a football person, had made that initial decision, we wouldn’t have gone through all the nonsense we went through,” said Wilder.
“I thought our club handled it magnificently well, in terms of the statement that came out. Steve, in his honest, blunt forthright manner, said it how it was and hit the nail on the head, as did 99.9 per cent of football people.
“I thought it was a bizarre request, and I think everybody in football did. You saw the backlash on it. If they had made what would have been a remarkable decision not to let our supporters in, then I don’t know where the game goes from there.
“Thankfully, a sensible decision was made, and we can all talk about and look forward to the main event, which is a quarter-final against the World and European champions, at home on a Saturday, with an opportunity of getting to Wembley and the semi-finals of an iconic competition.”