matthew harding
Ben Radford/Allsport

The Premier League is heating up. There is still no clear victor separating from the pack; it will probably take another few games for the EPL table to begin truly taking shape. And if you look at the online soccer lines, it doesn’t look like the surprises of last year will emerge.

The same old giants of the game are making quick gains and putting their smaller rivals on the back-burner. Anyone that was hoping for a repeat of last year’s shocks and surprises might be disappointed, though fans of big teams like Manchester United and Chelsea will be happy to see them reclaim their positions at the top.

Right now, Chelsea is making the news and getting online voices buzzing not because of its performance in 2016 so far but the actions it will take with regards to Matthew Harding. You would think that Chelsea would have their gaze focused solely on their upcoming match with Manchester United.

It is true that United hasn’t been the fearsome giant everyone hoped and that they have lost quite a few surprising games, but they are still a threat that should be taken seriously. And Chelsea obviously won’t take their eye off the ball.

Rather, for the moment, they are choosing to focus on the 20th Anniversary of Matthew Harding’s death, assuring every soccer fan that they will definitely plan a tribute for him. In fact, according to Chelsea, their game against Manchester United on Sunday will provide the perfect platform to pay tribute to former Vice-Chairman Matthew Harding.

It will be 20 years this Saturday since the businessman died on his way home; the Chelsea fan’s helicopter crashed during the trip, shortly after watching his club play at Bolton.

Harding was more than just another enthusiast fan. More than merely closely following their games and cheering the team on through the tough and difficult times, he actually worked to further its progress, having invested 26.5 million into the club.

The reason the north stand was named after him when he died is because he funded it. Chelsea wasn’t always the major force it is today. It took the efforts of several parties and personalities to give the club the strength it required to stand tall as a soccer threat and to contend for the biggest trophies in Europe.

When Ken Bates sent out the call for help in 1994, Harding was one of the men that answered the appeal, making available funds that would help Chelsea grow stronger. And in doing so, Harding gained a seat on the board.

Current Owner Roman Abramovich has been fielding requests from fans for a while now to honour Harding’s memory, and it looks like he has finally capitulated; Roman has paid for a crowd-surfing flag measuring 100ft by 50ft with Harding’s name on it.

The flag will be held aloft by fans before the United Game kicks off. All the tickets for the match will have a watermark image of Harding on the back, this along with a message honouring him. Additionally, various members of his family have been invited to attend the match.

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