Will we stay or will we go? This question will be answered soon according to information given to the Fans Forum. Here’s something we found tucked down the back of our sofa in the CFCnet green room. Written by Dave McCrossen and first published 5 years ago.
With all the money suddenly at the disposal of the Club, it was inevitable that the next bit of gossip would be about the ground. After all, we have signed – or could have signed – just about every player in the world and now the transfer deadline is almost upon us. Thank goodness would say some, but not the Sports Editors of the various tabloids. What on earth will they have to fill their pages with if we are not buying up another player? So no one should have shown surprise when a story appeared in the Mirror that plans were afoot to demolish the Hotel and build a proper stand where the Shed once proudly stood. What a load of rubbish. Or is it?
On the face of it we have a ground that is all nicely finished, years of building works and poor facilities being at an end. And, of course, we rarely sell out nowadays so what would be the point in starting all over again? Well things have moved on a pace in the last 7 weeks or so haven’t they?
At the start of July we had no money, and quite probably faced the prospect of losing at least one or two players. What sort of challenge were we going to be able to make on the Premiership or indeed the Champions League? In truth we would have done well to hang on to fourth spot. But the millions that have been pumped into the club since then have put a totally different slant on it. Forget all the waffle about players needing to gel and settle in, if we are not there or thereabouts at the seasons end then someone needs taking to Siberia to be shot or put to work in the mines. My own gut feeling tells me, incredibly, that it is the Champions League where we might really shine. Well I do have a big gut!!
And it is here that we get to the point of this little ditty. If we are to be truly successful as a club, is forty odd thousand as a capacity ever going to be enough? I think not. So is there any truth in rumours like this? Well the whispers are certainly gaining some pace. I was actually told on Saturday – by someone who has reasonably close links to the club – that a discussion had already taken place about uprooting the whole club to a new super stadium, possibly at Harlington. Again, this could all be something and nothing but at this moment in SW6 reality has been totally kicked into touch. If you had asked me a few short weeks ago if I would be happy with Joe Cole signing I would have had a grin wider than the Thames. Now the links – and bids – we have really are with the big name superstars of this wonderful game, and it all seems like one, long, crazy, wonderful dream.
In the real world success brings in the punters. You only have to look at Cold Trafford and the Library to notice that. 10 years or so ago at Arsenal they were still selling season tickets part way through the season, while today they have a waiting list almost as big as Romans bank statements. More seats would also mean an ability to lower prices, something that most blues fans have argued in favour of for years. The problem at the Bridge is doubtless going to be the local authority. However, without Ken managing to antagonise all of them maybe this would not be such a major concern. We can never have a 60,000 seater stadia on the current site though, two exits (both onto the Fulham Road) would make this impractical and in all probability dangerous. We have a railway line and a graveyard behind the East Stand, a railway line behind the Matthew Harding and rows of houses and flats beside the West Stand. So, even if we could convince the Council of the benefits of a super stadium at Chelsea, would it ever be allowed? The more you think of it, the more a move away seems the likely option. Unless Roman is prepared to buy up some of the housing stock for demolition – always a possibility – then we stay as we are or up sticks and move.
So is it possible that we suddenly find the Hotel being pulled down and replaced with a stand worthy of the name? Of course it is. But it is equally as likely – if not more so – that with a pit of money that appears to have no bottom to it we simply uproot and move to pastures new. Like many I would have very strong views about any attempt to move away from the Bridge, but times they are a changing and changing fast. Our only saving grace might be that Roman does – or hopefully will have – the concerns of the supporters in his mind when making plans, and that in itself has to be a welcome relief from what came before.