Following the FA’s decision to hold the Arse v Spurts FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford rather than Stamford Bridge, Martin Rowe casts a critical eye over the building work at Chelsea’s home ground and asks, can we fix it?
Well, well, well – it appears that Stamford Bridge is not in a fit state to host an FA Cup semi-final. So what exactly is the matter with Chelsea’s home ground? Well it’s still not finished. That has to be the fans’ fault, after all, it could not possibly be Ken Bates’s could it?
Let’s just think a minute and make a comparison. How long ago did Ken get Bob the Builder and his pals to move into the west stand and how long did they have to wait until Ken got his way with the evil local councillors? How quickly did Fulham get planning permission for a whole new stadium?
Mind you, Al has not got to build a village around his ground, although he already has one. It would be funny if he did … Stamford Bridge one-and-half miles away from Harrods in both directions.
While we are on the topic of west stand seats, how come the old ones are on sale for £400 yet their Wembley equivalents cost a mere £60?
What about next year? The Bridge might be finished so it could be considered as a neutral venue for cup semi-finals, but will a capacity of 40,000 be large enough? Of course it will, the sweeping mass of seats in the thirteen rows of the Shed End lower tier should provide ample room for the massed ranks of a FA Cup semi-finalist’s support.
What about the lucky traveling hordes who occupy the last few rows of the Matthew Harding lower tier? You will get a great view there… if you don’t stand up you can see just below the crossbar at the Shed End. After all, you are hardly likely to stand up at semi-final are you?
What about the unrivaled views in the east corner of the Harding lower? Great view if you do not want to see any action down the east side of the pitch. That reminds me, these are the very same seats that ‘Chelsea in the Community’ gave away to the numerous local school kids when we were crap a few years ago. How kind.
How about the view from the rear of the east stand lower tier? Isn’t there an announcement for people to sit down during most matches? Okay, so you are not meant to stand up in a seating area, but people do and you do not get such a bad ride at other Premiership grounds.
Talking of the east stand, has anybody noticed the protective sheet along the front of the middle tier? Just enough to shield the away fans from the slightest chance of a peep at Mellor’s mug or is it to protect Bates from the verbal abuse from the travelling support? Didn’t Bates recently claim that he was the most popular chairman in the Premiership? Apparently people are always stopping him and asking for an autograph. So why is that sheet there? Make your own mind up.
How about the last few rows of the Shed upper? You can hear the video screens but you cannot see them and the tannoy is completely inaudible. Mind you, that’s a godsend. I hate that announcer and I am sure that he is the same guy who edits the matchday magazine and ‘Onside’, not forgetting that leather-bound £600 classic.
If the FA do give the go-ahead to allow a semi-final, after Ken has kissed and made up with them, where the hell are people going to park? Have you tried to park anywhere near the stadium? Okay, so we have an underground car park but will our friends from other parts of the UK be prepared to pay a day’s wages for the privilege of using it? I know the area fairly well as I have been driving in since 1986 and the closest to the ground I can park is Wandsworth Bridge Road on a good day.
I can also remember the chairman boasting about his great vacation over in the land of the star-spangled banner back in 1994. He was looking at the latest state-of-the-art stadia being prepared for the World Cup that year. Can you remember what he came back with? Of course you can, the latest state-of-the-arse second-hand scoreboards. He did not have a clue where he was going to put them, but bought them anyway. Then he put them right in front of about 600 seats in the east corner of the Shed Upper. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to have bought Tube ticket and taken a butchers at the screens at Three Point Lane? Isn’t it amazing how the screens actually fit into the roof of the stands?
Talking of traveling to that particular part of London, did any of you sit in the North Bank at Highbury when our semi-final was held there in 1997? What a strange stand to hold semi-finals – padded seats, leg room, video screens you could actually see, announcements you could hear, no complaints. Whatever next? That’s no way to view a semi-final in the 21st century.
What do you think of the redeveloped Stamford Bridge? Is it a disgrace that it cannot be used as a neutral venue for cup semi-finals? Or are you amused at the thought of all those north London supporters travelling all the way to Manchester on a Sunday for a local derby?