Chelsea plan £500m upgrade for 60,000 capacity stadium
Chelsea could be forced to find a new home for up to three years if they push ahead with plans to expand Stamford Bridge.
The Premier League champions will reveal their proposals at a consultation meeting to local residents and supporters at a Stamford Bridge exhibition from June 30 to July 2.
Among the ideas under consideration is for Chelsea to dig below street level to increase the capacity of the stadium from 41,798 to 60,000.
Roman Abramovich, the club’s owner, would have to fully fund the project with early predictions estimating it could cost £500million and take up to three years to complete, meaning Chelsea would have to play away from Stamford Bridge.
Twickenham has previously been touted as a potential temporary home and Chelsea have held discussions with Ian Ritchie, the Rugby Football Union’s chief executive, while Wembley would be another option.
Stamford Bridge could be rebuilt without Chelsea having to move away, but such a project could take four seasons and would mean the team playing in front of a reduced capacity.
Chelsea previously considered building a new stadium at Earls Court, White City and Battersea Power Station, but are now focusing on redeveloping Stamford Bridge.
There are several challenging aspects with the environment on which Chelsea have to work. The existing site is 12 acres, but 60,000-capacity stadiums are normally built on at least 20 acres of land. There are also railway tracks at the back of the East Stand that would have to be built over.
Chelsea insist that the plans are still in their infancy and are “years” from being made reality, although there has been internal talk of the team playing in a new stadium in 10 years’ time.
Last year Abramovich commissioned a study of the area from Fulham Broadway to Stamford Bridge and beyond to examine the potential of upgrading the streetscape as well as the stadium.
Monaco have asked to take some of Chelsea’s promising young players on loan as part of the deal that will lead to Radamel Falcao playing at Stamford Bridge next season. The striker’s season-long loan deal is virtually complete and Monaco are keen on Chelsea’s 20-year-old midfielder Mario Pasalic and the 18-year-old Belgian Charly Musonda.
Arsenal target Petr Cech is expected formally to communicate his desire to leave Chelsea during talks with the club this week.
Abramovich and the Chelsea board have decided the goalkeeper will be allowed to move to another English club and Arsenal are leading the way for his signature, ahead of Manchester United.
Chelsea’s goalkeeping situation has been complicated slightly by the fact Real Madrid made an inquiry regarding Thibaut Courtois.
Although the Blues essentially told Real that Courtois is not for sale by valuing him at £73m, the club are aware that the 23-year-old could one day be interested in a move back to Spain.
With that in mind, Mourinho is determined to sign a top-quality replacement for Cech, such as Asmir Begovic, rather than targeting a bench-warmer.