Chelsea started being considered a ‘major’ Premier League club only after the turn of the century. After being taken over by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003, their luck changed and for fans – a lot of joy was to follow.
Since Roman’s takeover, the Blues have won four Premier League titles, two UEFA Champions League and five FA Cup titles. To get things into perspective, in their 98 years in existence before that – they had only won one league title and the FA Cup three times.
Chelsea’s sudden and rapid uprise helped them gain a lot of popularity around the globe, expanding from their core support that was rooted in London and other areas of the UK.
Their prolonged success and ability to spend a lot of money to evolve from a mid-table club to one regularly winning championships have also caused a lot of jealousy.
Because most of the European clubs don’t have such financial strength to solve their problems by making big-money signings, Chelsea has grown to receive a lot of hate.
That is only increasing, with their latest owners having spent nearly £500m in just transfer fees after taking over the club last year from Abramovich.
That’s why whenever they lose games or drop points, Chelsea are victims of widespread mockery and hatred from fans from other Premier League or European clubs.
Most of that is rooted in the depths of social media, but there are some nasty fans who look to trigger match-going Chelsea fans with disgusting chants during games.
One such chant refers to the Blues as ‘Rent Boys’. This is a highly disrespectful homophobic chant that honestly has no place in modern football, anywhere in the world.
The chant has been sung since the 1980s and has only increased since the Blues started getting more popular and more successful.
The chant itself is pretty dumb and goes like ‘‘Hello! Hello! Chelsea rent boys, Chelsea rent boys,’ to the tune of Gary Glitter’s ‘Good to be Back’ song. Glitter, incidentally, was a glam rock singer from the 70s and 80s, who was outed as a child sex offender in 2006.
As the history goes for the origin of this awfully homophobic chant, it was created after a leader of the Chelsea fan group ‘Headhunter’ was misreported to be found in bed with a male roommate in the mid-1980s.
Chelsea historian Rick Glanvill explains what really happened, telling Goal: “Specifically, the chant seems to stem from the mid-1980s and an account in The Sun newspaper of a police raid on a so-called Headhunter called Dale Green, who reportedly shared a multi-bedroom house with a male friend.
“When the police broke in, Green was in the hall about to open the door but his housemate was seen elsewhere wearing only boxer shorts.
“However, the tabloid reported that the pair had been found in bed together. Out of that sprang the notion Green had hired a male sex worker or ‘rent boy’ in the parlance of the time.”
It is also speculated that the large presence of homosexual people in the Chelsea/Fulham area might also be a reason why this chant is repeatedly sung at the Blues’ match-going supporters as well.
This chant is a very disgusting slur at the LGBTQ community, as it is a disrespectful way of putting down the Chelsea fans and trying to insult them by mocking homosexual people.
Recently, before Chelsea’s 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, the stadium announcer made an announcement to the stadium – urging the Liverpool supporters to not make any Rent Boys chant in particular.
It’s also not just the Chelsea fans who are victims of this awful chant, their players have also seen it directed toward them in the past.
Frank Lampard, their iconic former midfielder, was the victim of this chant quite often during his playing career for the Blues.
Unfortunately, the LGBTQ issue wasn’t covered that much back in his playing days – but is starting to get more of a limelight as the years pass on. Lampard has not been able to shake off this chant even after retiring as a footballer.
Life has been tough for him as Everton manager and the Englishman is under intense pressure to be sacked, with the Merseyside club now relegated to 19th position in the Premier League table.
Despite his sorrows, Lampard has again been subjected to the disgusting Rent Boys chant in the past few weeks.
During his side’s 3-1 loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup earlier this month, the chants were allegedly heard ringing around Old Trafford as well – even though there is no direct rivalry between either club.
This shocking incident forced the Football Association (FA) to force their hand and make a strict rule around this chant, which ensures that clubs themselves also play bigger roles in eradicating it from the games.
The ‘Rent Boy’ chant is now being considered a breach of the FA’s rules and they have also indicated that clubs could be under threat of facing disciplinary actions if they can’t contain their home fans from singing it.
The FA insisted that this disrespectful chant has a ‘lasting and damaging impact’ on the beautiful game and the communities that watch it.
Chelsea has also voiced their appreciation for this act because the chant was increasingly being directed at them and causing distress to their LGBTQ supporters.
This follows the Premier League’s steps to bring more inclusiveness into the beautiful game with their partnership with LGBTQ groups around England.
The league are a staunch promoter of the ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign, which sees them occasionally paint the corner flags, captain’s armband and club logo colours to rainbow.
In a time where football and other sports are aiming to evolve and use their platforms to eradicate the taboos around the LGBTQ community, there is no room at all for the ‘Rent Boys’ or any homophobic chants in the beautiful game, at all.