Chelsea FC completely dominate the nominations for the 2020 London Football Awards. The Blues have at least one nominee in every category except for the one that doesn’t apply to them and the one that won’t surprise you at all.
Chelsea are in good position to break one of their more unfortunate streaks of the last two years. For the last two years, Chelsea players and coaches went home empty-handed from the London Football Awards despite nominees in several categories. At the 2019 event, the Chelsea Foundation received the only honour of the night for the Say No to Anti-Semitism campaign, which was just beginning to pick up steam and has grown greatly in the subsequent year.
Perhaps to right this historical wrong or simply in acknowledgement that London is blue, therefore the London Football Awards should be blue, as well, Chelsea have 11 nominations among the player and coach awards.
Unsurprisingly, the Blues have the majority of the nominees in the Young Player of the Year category. Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham are all up for a trophy. Presumably, if not for their respective injuries that cost them the first part of the season, Callum Hudson-Odoi or Reece James would have taken a spot from Gabriel Martinelli or Bryan Mbuemo. Probably Martinelli. If any of them win, they would be the first Chelsea player to do so, since before this season young players did not play for Chelsea.
Abraham is also nominated for Player of the Year, along with Jorginho and former skipper Gary Cahill for his performances at Crystal Palace. If Abraham were to win both, he would be the first to do so in the same season in the history of the awards.
Emma Hayes remains the only woman to be nominated for Manager of the Year, her third time on the ballot. She is there alongside Frank Lampard, who picked up his first nomination in a playing or coaching category, having won the 2017 award for Outstanding Contribution to London Football.
Three of Hayes’ players are up for Women’s Player of the Year. Beth England, Erin Cuthbert and Magdalena Erikson have a surprising advantage over two nominees from Arsenal, who have lead Chelsea in the Women’s Super League table for most of the year (although the Blues are now two points ahead of Arsenal for second place). Their teammate Sophie Ingle’s 20-yard top-corner goal against Arsenal is nominated for Goal of the Season, along with N’Golo Kante’s against Liverpool. No Arsenal – men’s or women’s – goal made the cut.
That leaves only two awards without Chelsea representation: English Football League Player of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year. Thibaut Courtois was the last Chelsea player to win that award, in 2015. Petr Cech only won it in 2016 with Arsenal.
The London Football Awards take place on March 5. The ceremony raises money for the Willow Foundation, founded by former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob “Willow” Wilson to provide special days for adults with serious illnesses.
Chelsea players, like many other footballers, have played a central role in creating these experiences. As Wilson told me during our 2017 interview (still available on SoundCloud!):
I think it makes [the players] realize how just fortunate they are as individuals to not only not have a life-threatening or life-limiting illness, but to be able to appreciate just how fortunate they are. They are talented, they are maximizing their talent, but they are being shown life is not all roses and it can be incredibly cruel…
I can never remember a player who has not been able to look at that individual, to return the smile and to have the arms around the shoulder. They take the selfie photograph or special photographs, then take the time talking and sign the garments.