Premier League

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Chelsea ready to abandon plans to leave Stamford Bridge

Roman Abramovich appears to concede defeat in his quest to relocate after commissioning a study to explore the possibility of expanding club's home

Published 18/06/2014 | 11:58

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Roman Abramovich looks ready to keep Chelsea at Stamford Bridge after alternatives plans involving Battersea Power Station and Earls Court came to nothing

Roman Abramovich appeared to concede defeat in his quest to relocate Chelsea after commissioning a study to explore the possibility of expanding Stamford Bridge.

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In a dramatic about-turn, the club announced that it would consult local stakeholders about the possibility of redeveloping a ground that has been their only home since they were formed 109 years ago.

Chelsea had insisted previously that the exorbitant cost of expanding their 41,837-capacity ground made doing so economically unviable and the club actively explored moving to nearby Battersea Power Station and Earls Court. But those options evaporated, leaving billionaire owner Abramovich little choice but to re-examine staying put and boosting the capacity of Stamford Bridge towards 55,000. The advent of Financial Fair Play has made it all the more crucial for Chelsea to increase matchday revenues to avoid falling behind their Premier League and European rivals.

A spokesman said: “The owner has commissioned a study into the area surrounding Stamford Bridge. As the correspondence that has gone out to local stakeholders makes clear, this consultation is just the start of a preliminary process to collect opinions on the existing conditions in the area.”

A message on the club’s website announced the study, which could result in “landscaped public walkways and cycleways” over the railway lines near the site to reduce pedestrian traffic on nearby streets on matchdays. The study will also assess the feasi­bility of an expansion of the stadium within the existing historic site boundaries, potentially to enlarge its ­capacity, enhance its facilities and improve the movement of people and vehicles on match and non-matchdays.”

Chelsea’s announcement came more than 2½ years after Abramovich was defeated in his bid to purchase the freehold of Stamford Bridge, which is owned by the supporter-run company Chelsea Pitch Owners.

Abramovich’s attempt to buy the land beneath the stadium was seen as a precursor to a move away and, although the club repeatedly insisted that no decision on relocation had been made, a bitter campaign was waged ahead of a vote of CPO shareholders which scuppered the Russian’s plans

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