Chelsea pave way for move away from Stamford Bridge
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck moves to reassure fans over steps to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge
Chelsea have begun paving the way for a potential move away from Stamford Bridge by proposing to buy back the freehold on the land where their home is built.
The freehold, pitch and turnstiles were purchased by supporter-led group Chelsea Pitch Owners plc in 1997 to safeguard the club from the threat of property developers.
The proposed purchase is the first indication that The Blues are ready to move out of their home of 106 years.
While Chelsea insist there are no plans to leave as of yet, there have been provisional discussions in the past over possible moves to relocate the club to Battersea Nine Elms, Earl’s Court, White City and Imperial Wharf.
Stamford Bridge currently holds 41,800 fans, and a capacity upgrade to the suggested 60,000 appears not to be feasible at the site.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck is hopeful that future long-term benefits can persuade CPO shareholders to sell up.
“Some shareholders will not react positively, and there will be a group of fans who consider this to be a precursor to Chelsea moving, and they will not want Chelsea to move,” Buck said.
“At the moment we have no discussions ongoing with any developer, and we still have not made the decision that, yes, Chelsea definitely want to move. But, just like any business, we have at least to be prepared for a move if something right comes along.”
Chelsea have scheduled meeting with CPO for 27 October, where they will need to gain a 50 per cent vote of approval from the shareholders present for the sale to go ahead.
The club have spent around £700,000 exhausting every possibility to expand or rebuild Stamford Bridge to increase its capacity.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve given up but after five or six years of looking at it we are doubtful that we can do something at reasonable cost that will give us a reasonable return financially and for the fans,” Buck continued.
“At the moment we have no discussions going on with any developer and we still have not made a decision that “˜yes, Chelsea want to move’.
“More significantly, we are wondering whether long-term our stadium might be the right size. We may decide that 42,000 is fine and if we continue to have that view we would just stay.”