Sunday 26 March 2017

Blues consider leaving Bridge

Chelsea are paving the way for a possible move from Stamford Bridge by proposing to buy back the pitch and stands which are owned by a supporter-led group, WRITES JASON BURT

Although the club insist that there is nothing "active" in terms of leaving the Bridge, chairman Bruce Buck said: "We have to be prepared for a move if something right comes along."

Three areas have been identified as possible sites -- Earls Court, White City and, probably the most likely candidate, Nine Elms on the banks of the river Thames -- although there are no discussions at present.

A fourth site, at Imperial Wharf, has already been dismissed as too small -- Chelsea would need around 20 acres of land for a 60,000-capacity stadium -- while developers have mentioned areas to the north at Wormwood Scrubs and Old Oak Common.

If Chelsea did move they would like then to redevelop the Stamford Bridge site for a mix of residential and commercial use to help pay for the switch, with the rest of the costs being met by bank finance and probably owner Roman Abramovich.

Buck stressed that there were no plans to leave the Bridge, Chelsea's home since 1905, and added that reacquiring the pitch and stands was "housekeeping". "We are here at Stamford Bridge, have no plans to move but, like any good business looking at the future, we are looking at everything that comes along and might make sense," he said.

"This is something we should have done maybe five years ago when we were cleaning up housekeeping matters and other financing we had that wasn't appropriate for a club solely owned by Roman Abramovich."

Chelsea are calling an extraordinary meeting of the Chelsea Pitch Owners association for October 27 when they will need 50pc approval from shareholders. There are 12,000 shareholders although only a few hundred are expected at the meeting. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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