In recent weeks, Chelsea’s on field exploits have seemingly flown under the radar as the hype surrounding a potential Manchester title race has built following City and United’s impressive unbeaten starts.
Instead, all talk surrounding the London club has been regarding the clubs future at Stamford Bridge. The issue has arisen following an open letter from Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck to the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO), with the club looking to buy out shareholders as the club considers moving stadium.
CPO was set up in 1993 as the club was in a dire financial position, with the remit of safeguarding Stamford Bridge from potential property development and thus ensuring the club would remain at SW6.
In essence, since Roman Abramovich took over the club in 2003 the very job of the CPO has been obsolete. Chelsea’s financial position is now secure and the CPO is an unnecessary obstacle as the club look at options to move away from their spiritual home. Chelsea have already stated that any potential move will be within a 3 mile radius of Stamford Bridge and that any location will have to provide room for a stadium of more than 55,000 seats.
The benefits of moving to a bigger stadium are enormous, take Arsenal for example – a club whose match day revenues have doubled since moving from Highbury to the Emirates in 2006. Some might argue that has led the North London club to stall on the pitch due to a more conservative, youth based transfer policy. Yet for Chelsea, with Abramovich’s millions, such problems would be unlikely.
A 55,000 plus seater stadium would truly announce Chelsea as one of Europe’s long term big players. Indeed, in the same way that influx of foreign players into the Chelsea side of the 90s marked one era and Abramovich’s spending spree marked another – a move to a new stadium would begin a new era in which the club could continue to grow and new memories could be created.
Club captain John Terry has already supported any potential move and while he accepts Stamford Bridge will never be forgotten he has stated that he is excited by the idea of kids ‘being able to grow up watching the team play in a big stadium’.
To some fans, the 3 mile radius will be too far but surely for any fan the best interests of the football club must come first. The club have already moved to consider the sensitive issue of club legend Peter Osgood’s ashes – which are buried under the penalty spot at the Shed End of the ground. A club statement read, ‘Peter’s widow Lynn would of course be consulted over this matter and the club has not agreed to move but if it did it would consider transferring the urn and a small part of the old stadium pitch to the new one as a commemoration.’
The ideal situation for the club is that the CPO will accept their proposal and the club will be able to fully explore all avenues open to them. It is clear that the club have been unable to procure a concrete stadium site as of yet but if they can regain the CPO shares it is a start.
The future can only be bright for the club if they move stadium in the next few years; even it will be difficult for fans to accept at first. Chelsea are currently one of the biggest clubs in Europe, yet if they are to take that next step sentiment must be swept aside.