A few anonymous fans have contacted CFCnet with an article or two about Chelsea Pitch Owners. We felt obliged to publish them because CFCnet is a Chelsea fans website and we don’t exist to censor content but merely to put it forward to fellow fans.
After all, CFCnet is run by fans for fans. That’s our job. If fans need to remain anonymous, so be it.
The Chelsea Pitch Owners saga is a difficult one. Over 12,000 fans have purchased CPO shares since its inception – at £100 per share – and they did so upon the premise that they owned part of the freehold to Stamford Bridge. This meant, of course, that no property developer could ever buy the freehold to Stamford Bridge and that the Club would remain in its spiritual home.
CPO was essentially a product of its time. It was a defensive manoeuvre by both the Club and its fans to ensure that whatever the future held, no property developer could kick the Club out. It was a worthy cause but since then, things have changed and this change of circumstance was never foreseen by the original draftees of the CPO Constitution.
With a Russian billionaire owning the Club, do we now need a ‘defensive CPO’ strategy? Or do we instead need to give the Club flexibility to move and build a bigger ground within the SW6 surrounds such as Earl’s Court? Even Chelsea Pitch Owners Chairman, Richard King, is on record saying that CPO is ‘no longer valid’ and has served its purpose.
But ‘no longer valid’ to whom?
Every fan who bought those shares did so to protect our Club during good times and bad. Whilst these are good times who can see what’s round the corner? Wouldn’t CPO shares always be valid? For this reason, some fans are actively lobbying for the removal of the CPO chairman Richard King. After all, his remit is to represent the CPO constitution and shareholders, not to be seen to (allegedly) undermine them.
Other fans, and we hear from them on our Forums too, agree with King that CPO is outdated and would prefer CPO shareholders to allow the Club the right to move from Stamford Bridge if required – perhaps by transferring their CPO freehold share to a new ground.
CFCnet’s view? CPO was created by Chelsea FC and its fans so that the Club and its name remained at Stamford Bridge. If the Club ever wanted to change this it would need the approval of all 12,000 shareholders of CPO.
We can never see this happening simply because some old hermit living in a crofter’s hut in Scotland would probably want £1 million for his share. Other fans, more keen to line their pockets than protect the club, would also lobby for a grand payment.
If someone then instigated legal action to claim that the shares were not valid in law, then the Club could be sued for misrepresentation in its original prospectus.
It’s a mess.
The only solution is for all discussions, debate and opinions to be ‘above board’ and transparent. Machiavellian moves to invalidate or influence CPO by whatever means need to be stopped and true intentions revealed.
More importantly, those brave 12,000 fans who invested money to protect their Club need to be consulted. If even one of those fans says ‘no’, that’s it. End of story. The Club remains at Stamford Bridge. Unless, of course, there is a majority ‘voting’ clause in CPO’s remit that allows the ‘majority’ to hold sway. We’re unsure on that aspect.
The only bright light on the horizon is that it is highly unlikely we will ever move. One of CFCnet’s colleagues is a petro-geologist and he says the current world oil situation is ‘horrifying’ and that peak oil has arrived. With travel costs set to soar and with most fans living well outside SW6, a 42,000 seater stadium will probably be enough for the foreseeable future. Peak oil is one (non-disclosed) reason why Juventus are trading down from a 69,000 seater stadium to a 41,000 seater. They can see what’s coming.
Maybe we won’t be looking to move anyway.