Chelsea is building a new stadium to help us “rule the world of football”. While clearly one of the Premier League’s best clubs in terms of honours, Stamford Bridge is only the ninth-biggest stadium in the top tier and it’s definitely time to upgrade.
The move has been hailed by fans who expect the club to go on to dominate the domestic and European leagues for decades to come; especially now that Conte has settled and the blues are flying high at the top of the league.
Up until this season, the Bridge was the eighth-largest ground in the league, but it dropped a place after West Ham United moved to the 54,000-seater Olympic Stadium. This will change further when Spurs move into their new ground. Stamford Bridge is one of the 100 biggest stadiums in Europe – but only just. In addition, the likes of Barcelona’s Nou Camp has a capacity of 99,354, which is more than double the size of Chelsea’s home turf.
So why does this matter? After all, Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich has plenty of money to spend – right? Well, technically, yes. The issue lies with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. These regulations say that a club’s transfer spending should balance with its income. Chelsea therefore need to find a way to make more money in order to compete without falling foul of the rules.
So how does the club plan to change things?
In November 2015, the club put forward a planning application to build a 60,000-seater stadium on the current Stamford Bridge site. This would start with a demolition of the existing 41,600 stadium, while building would include a new museum and club shop. If planning is approved, Chelsea would enter the new stadium in time for the 2020-21 season.
The decision to stay on the site we’ve played on since 1905 will please a lot of Blues’ fans. Yet it also comes as a surprise considering that the club had stated that staying at the Bridge was “not feasible or viable”.
The cost of the project
The club estimates that the proposed expansion will cost £600 million. Previous expansion plans almost caused the club to go bankrupt in the 1970s, yet Abramovich is more than able to cover the costs this time. Whereas Spurs are likely to be quiet in the transfer market while work continues on their new ground, it’s unlikely that Chelsea will suffer the same woes due to the Russian owner’s seemingly endless wealth.
What about the seating plan?
The worry among many season ticket holders is that they will lose their favourite seat to watch home matches. Yet the club say they are taking measures to help fans to remain in the same places as much as possible. In other great news, the new design by plans to copy the seats’ close proximity to the pitch.
Where will Chelsea play during building works?
If the council grants planning permission, Chelsea will have to play their home matches elsewhere for three years. It’s likely that Wembley Stadium will be their home from 2017-18 until the 2020-21 season.
However, the club won’t be allowed to fill all of Wembley’s 90,000 seats. This is because the national stadium is limited to 37 major events per year. As a result, only 50,000 home and away fans will be allowed to attend Chelsea matches there.