Over week ago the news was announced that the club would like the buy back the shares of the Chelsea Pitch Owners, in turn freeing up the only complication they would have in moving ground and giving Roman full control and the fans no say.  As we all know, for nearly two decades the name Chelsea FC and the freehold of the ground has been held in the hands of the Chelsea Pitch Owners, and that’s the only power or say us fans have.

Shares are still available to purchase, and if you buy them you can still vote (however you do not get the bribes offered for voting yes).   The lack of clarity from the CPO on this issue is appalling, and with nothing publicized it indicates that the CPO would rather not make us aware of this, and they are failing in their aim of raising the outstanding £8.5million.  Now is the best time for them to make money, whether fans vote NO or the other option is up to the shareholder, and not up to CPO to try and restrict.

By phoning 01932 847 952 you can still buy a share and vote on one of the most important decisions in the clubs history.  Forms should be sent out the same day or the following day (mine came the next day), and buying a share in the coming days gives more than enough time –  two weeks for the CPO to send the documents.  The guy on the phone informed me that they had had a higher uptake recently, but nothing suggests it’s anything near a volume they can’t handle.  I believe current shareholders can also update their address details by phoning this number.

Why I’ll be voting NO:

We can almost predict that the close views will be sacrificed and any new ground will be further from the pitch, that each tier will wrap around, and look like any other modern English stadia.  These are the sorts of issues that need to be considered before casting a vote, do we want a real football stadium whereby we can sing and generate an atmosphere, where the many surrounding pubs are a short walk to the ground.  Without fans singing and getting behind the team you may as well watch the matches from home, with a new stadium will come a reduced atmosphere and at the prices paid it’s factors like this that may deter the fans.

Technology is coming along leaps and bounds too, what with 3D and who knows what else will happen in the future, will the time come when fans have to realistically look at spending £50 (We’ll be looking at £75+ by 2020) on attending a match live? Whilst the alternatives may be a watered down and tame option, they will also be much cheaper, with no travel required, this will appeal to the fans who can take or leave atmosphere (The very fans that a new stadium is being catered for) and there’s a strong possibility of the latter of those two choices happening.  Then our current fans who have been attending for years will be sitting in our new oversized stadium, with empty seats all around them, with only the 3k maximum who would’ve voted no being the only ones who can truly felt they did all they could.

The club should not rush this through at the legal statutory notice, but instead have given time to think about it, waiting until after the Annual CPO Lunch so people can discuss it.  It makes it look like they have something to hide, that there’s something they don’t want to get out. Despite claims from the club to suggest otherwise, the Everton League Cup match date was announced September 26th, the club made the CPO announcement October 3rd, they could’ve considered the fans making the long trip up norf.

The uncertainty is the main thing, the likelihood is we’ll be shipped out more than three miles, to a lifeless oversized, corporately sponsored arena, which is everything that live football shouldn’t be about.  I would like guarantees, and have faith that the best intentions of the fans are explored first.  I know it’s a club decision and money comes into it, but due to the land in SW6 being worth a few bob I fear that will blinker the clubs decision.

The 2020 commitment means nothing, with identifying a site, planning permission, construction etc etc we won’t be far off 2020 before we’re ready to move in, it’s not 1st January 2020 that the club will explore other avenues, it’s from now, they can put the wheels in motion from tomorrow.

For those who read the papers last Tuesday it looked like lazy journalism, they all proclaimed that a 50% vote was needed, in fact as the letters sent to the Chelsea Pitch Owners state it is actually a 75% majority.  Where did the mistake emulate from?  One of the PR team?  Actually it was from the mouth of Chairman Bruce Buck straight to the media in a press conference.  It demonstrates a complacency that is not allowed on the pitch, how can such a significant part of the proposal be wrong?  Is it being taken seriously?

It demonstrates an arrogance that Jose Mourinho would be proud of, the club seemingly in their minds believe that they have the vote in the bag, that such attention to detail as a 25% margin isn’t going to cost them. The little communication that was initially published in the announcement has no doubt been in the pipeline for a while, so should any statement clarifying the clubs poisiton have been finetuned over the last months.  To now drip feed further information, they are giving less and less time to sway the no voters.  Unless of course they have got a load of yes men in the pipeline and know they are covered.

The club should give as many details as they can as to why we cannot expand Stamford Bridge, a bit about each stand is not enough and I for one am not convinced that they have explored every possibility, they really need to justify why our home might no longer be suitable.

Out of Touch
A Roll of Honour and first dibs on a Season Ticket (Not really an incentive for many of our older fans who are CPO’s, especially the ones who have been priced out) is the clubs proposal, also the club want to put in added sweeteners like the 16-21 year old’s, a demographic who Gourlay has so far failed to recognise even exist.  It was said by him at a previous Fans Forum that to offer concessions to that age group, he’d need to raise Season Ticket prices for the rest of us, and stop the heavily subsidised trains, both of which has had done yet only those up to the age of seventeen now get a discount.

Ticket Pricing
With the hike in prices the atmosphere clearly isn’t of consideration, and to think that the club will offer the fans a genuine say in the design of the Samsung Arena is so far non evidential, and who do we expect to pay for the new stadium?  It will have increased ticket prices, Roman will not give us a new ground as a gift, whatever we get for selling Stamford Bridge and corporate sponsorship is unlikely to be pumped into cheaper tickets, Roman at some point would probably like a bit of Return on Investment.

It should also be pointed out that the Gourlay Gravy Train has also seen a 33% increase in Champions League ticket prices, 25% for League Cup and 20% for the F.A Cup, none of this money has been put into any cause (i.e 16-21s) other then managerial changes and new players.  Obviously the football itself is the main and that’s understandable, but it doesn’t bode well for some of the clubs new claims when they failed to honour their old ones or help the fans.

Return on Investment
When Roman bought the club he must have had some thinking as to how to make some money back, whether it was a super league where Europe’s elite could write their own TV deals, whether it was global expansion, or perhaps it was that he knew the value of the property he may soon own.  Chelsea Barracks is less than an acre bigger then Stamford Bridge, and sold for £959million, by the time we would sell the land at Stamford Bridge, Britain will be out of a recession and ready for property developers to make a killing, it’s right by the tube, has bus links, the location is fantastic.

What I Want
We all want the best for Chelsea, those who purchased shares originally can demonstrate this more than others, and maybe at some point a new stadium will need to be explored, if the club would just be honest, lay their cards on the table, and build some trust, then people could vote yes without the fear of the club screwing us over. They also need to show all avenues of expanding Stamford Bridge exist.

There is too much uncertainly for fans to vote anything other than no, but if you would like to vote yes, I suggest you email the CPO and wait for a response.

Twitter: @darrenmantle

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