Terry Racism Trial Will Overshadow Season

John Terry's court date will cast a long shadow over the rest of Chelsea's season

After all the hype about the handshake and the fears over the potential for violence breaking out at the weekend in advance of today's pre-trial hearing, there is nothing. John Terry's trial for a racially aggravated public order offence will not be heard until 9 July. He is costless to captain Chelsea and England for the rest of the season and the European Championships but at what cost?

Chelsea Chief Executive Ron Gourlay submitted a letter to the court expressing their concerns over the potential disruption any trial during the season could have on their team. Terry is not the only Chelsea player who will be affected by the trial. Some of his team mates will be called as witnesses and will have to give evidence about what happened during the match.

Surely it would have been better for the club, despite their concerns, to get the matter heard as quickly as possible. This alleged incident happened in October. It will be the summer before there is an end. To have such an awful accusation linked to the club for so long can only be harmful to Chelsea in the long run. Terry has a reputation as Mr.Chelsea. For many he embodies the club in a way that no other current player or manager can. So for the club to have its iconic captain before a magistrate accused of a very sensitive crime is a disaster. For it to drag on for the rest of the season, with all the speculation and debate that will inevitably ensue, just intensifies the damage.

Jason Roberts tweeted today about the toxic effect he believes Terry's captaincy could have on the England team at the European Championships especially if Anton Ferdinand's brother Rio is selected to play alongside Terry. What of Terry's Chelsea team mates? Is the Chelsea captain a toxic presence at Cobham? The ramifications for the team and dressing room harmony can only be guessed at but as Chelsea head into a crucial time of the season, battling to secure a Champions League place and trying desperately to win that competition and the FA Cup, it would be better not to have this court case casting its shadow over the entire team.

The person who suffers most in this is Anton Ferdinand. His commitments to QPR were also taken into consideration by the court but surely it would have been better for him too if the trial was held earlier. He will be subjected to taunts and abuse from the stands from now until the end of the season. Chelsea fans are costless to engage in disgusting chants and threatening behaviour for the next five months. Its shameful and disgraceful that this will continue but sadly true.

For Chelsea, football and most importantly Anton Ferdinand an earlier trial date would have been better.