An inside source in Chelsea’s 5th floor has let slip what a number of canny CPO watchers have felt for some time. Namely, the Club intends to move to a ready-built stadium in 2020. That stadium is Twickenham.
At one point it seemed Wembley might get the nod but we have heard from a few people in the FA that Wembley is ‘not on the agenda’. That could explain why a number of Wembley businesses are against the CPO deal whereas one might have expected them to be in favour (if it had brought in substantial extra revenue). Wembley Car Parks no less has published an extraordinary full page statement in favour of the ‘NO Vote’ which you can read here. A better overview of the CPO coup d’état would be hard to find.
The reason for the move to Twickenham is simple. It lies near the epicentre of Chelsea’s UK fan base. Chelsea has long been a heavy user of data mining and analytic techniques and these have mapped out where Chelsea supporters live in the UK. The central point of our support is Kingston-Upon-Thames, a stone’s throw from Twickenham (Editor’s note: very near Man Utd’s epicentre in Surrey). That is why the Club opened, closed and then re-opened a megastore in Kingston itself.
The Club’s use of data is well known in marketing circles. Natalie Waddell, Chelsea’s head of data has gone on record in Data Strategy magazine (read article here) and said, “The Club is now able to profile (and target) potential multi-use fans using a predictive scorecard which ranks single use supporters with the highest propensity to utilise the hotels, restaurants and retail outlets at our Stamford Bridge complex. The results – increased spend is among them.”
With Twickenham already built and located at the heart of Chelsea’s support, representations are said to have been made to Twickenham’s owners, the RFU, who are thought to have received the proposal enthusiastically – not least because the ground is heavily underused and the £millions in rent per annum would substantially boost the RFU’s coffers.
The deal also has another major advantage: there is no need to build a new stadium whilst the 82,000 capacity would sell out for the visits of teams like Utd and Arsenal. Moreover, and here is the crux of the issue, the 12.5 acres of Chelsea real estate can then be sold by the Club for a realistic £750 million. At one stroke of a pen, Roman Abramovich gets his total Chelsea investment returned whilst owning a Top Ten European football team housed in a stadium comparable to Old Trafford, the Bernabeu or Camp Nou.
This is why the Club cannot, and will not, disclose to CPO holders its true intentions. There would be uproar and a solid ‘NO’ vote. However, once the CPO deal has been railroaded through, the Club can freely relocate to Twickenham and brush aside any resistance in the same way that the Glazers simply laugh at the yellow and green scarves dotted around Old Trafford. Resistance is futile. That is why at Thursday’s CPO vote, it is beholden on every true Chelsea fan to VOTE NO.