Change of Chelsea stadium plans 'obviously' linked to Roman Abramovich's visa
Former Chelsea chief executive Trevor Birch believes the reported delayed renewal of Roman Abramovich's visa is linked to the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge being put on hold.
The Premier League club have announced that plans to turn the ground into a new 60,000-seater stadium have been put on ice.
And Birch, responsible for selling Chelsea to Russian Abramovich, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I wasn't really surprised (by the news) because it's obviously linked to the visa situation.
"There have been some rising costs in the stadium and it's a difficult project to deliver – but I think this is clearly Roman upping the ante in the spat with the Home Office."
Birch, who has also been chief executive at Everton and Leeds and now works for global finance advisors Duff & Phelps, continued: "We've moved into a different phase now.
"If the visa issue isn't resolved I think anything could happen. I think there's obviously a great deal of concern around at the moment.
"The Chelsea fans now face the prospect of no stadium, no manager and no star player if Eden Hazard moves to Real Madrid.
"But I think it's eminently sellable as a club, based in west London. With TV rights increasing, if Manchester United is valued at over £3bn I think Chelsea is valued at £1.5bn – and very attractive."
However, Birch added: "Of course to maintain the value of his (Abramovich) investment he needs to invest in players – and he didn't last season."
Independent News Service