Let’s get one thing clear at the outset, CFCnet is not against Chelsea FC moving to a larger ground. A poll of our readers shows that 63% are in favour of moving to a new home.
Whilst we’d prefer to remain at Stamford Bridge, we’re not naive enough to think that we can challenge the Barcelona’s, Man Utd’s & Real Madrid’s with a stadium that has half the capacity of our rivals.
However, whilst we are in favour of a move in principle to a nearby site, the current bid by Chelsea FC to purchase the shares of Chelsea Pitch Owners is nothing short of scandalous.
Here’s the facts: 12,000 Chelsea Pitch Owners own the freehold to Stamford Bridge, the pitch, the turnstiles and the Chelsea FC brand name. The Club want us to sell these rights for £1.2 million in return for NOTHING except a shallow promise that no new stadium will be built outside a radius of 3 miles before 2020. After 2020, the Club can do what it likes.
By any reasonable measure, the rights to the freehold of Stamford Bridge and the brand name Chelsea FC are worth a combined total of £1 billion (editor’s note: Adidas has announced we outsell every other Club in the world on shirt sales including Real Madrid and Bayern Munich). It seems strange that all these rights combined are only worth £1.2 million in the Club’s eyes.
However, this isn’t about the money. It never was. Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) was set up BY THE CLUB ITSELF to protect us, the fans, from being taken over and the ground/Club sold off by unscrupulous property developers and rich opportunists. Now, according to Chelsea FC, we have nothing to worry about and we are in good hands under Roman’s patronage. But are we?
For us and other fans groups representing Chelsea fans worldwide, the devil is in the detail. The potential Lucifer is hidden in the sentence that says ‘The Club promises to only relocate within 3 miles of the current stadium until 2020.’ The key question is why 2020? Why not 2050?
A cynic would argue that it will take almost 9 years to plan and re-develop a stadium within 3 miles of Stamford Bridge anyway. So what’s to stop Mr Abramovich pretending to “look for a site” over the next 9 years before stating, “we didn’t find one” and then “moving beyond 3 miles” into a “ready built stadium” such as “Wembley or Twickenham” whilst “pocketing £750 million from the sale of Stamford Bridge”. Trebles All Round and damn fine business.
This lack of a firm guarantee regarding the future of Stamford Bridge, entrusted to us the Chelsea Pitch Owners, means that we are left with no option but to recommend a ‘NO’ vote.
In short, we either need the date moved to 2050 (meaning that the current Club incumbents will be long dead and can’t ‘relocate us to Wembley’ in 2020) AND/OR a separate vote is required once a new stadium site has been properly identified. Failing that, it has to be a ‘NO’. This view is shared by the majority of our readership who voted ‘NO’ in a recent poll.
We’ll leave you with a quote from an email we received from Max Dowling, a CPO and ex-box holder who told us, quote, “In the Club’s offer document there are no guarantees from the Club apart from ‘trust us’. The last time I trusted someone without a written agreement I couldn’t sit down for a week.”
Exactly. Vote NO.