04/05/12 update: the club today confirmed that they have submitted a bid for the stadium.
With a stadium that’s on the small side and little room to improve, what’s a football club to do? In Chelsea’s case, the answer might be a move south of the river: they’re considering the option of building a new ground beside Battersea Power Station.
Chelsea have been exploring their property options for years, convinced that the limited facilities at Stamford Bridge are holding them back from a place in the upper echelon of European football’s elite. Any move would depend on the club’s ability to buy back shares in the Bridge owned by Chelsea Pitch Owners plc, formed in the early 1990s as a way of safeguarding the club’s financial viability, in the hand-to-mouth days when, for most supporters, ‘Russian investment’ meant stocking up on the vodka during a booze cruise.
The club retains an interest in new grounds at Earls Court and White City, but the opportunity to build an all-new facility, at an iconic riverside site, without a pre-existing local team to upset, is an enticing one. The club is favouring an area in the south-west of the site, for a stadium that would hold between 55,000 and 60,000 spectators. Battersea Power Station is set for a major £5.5 billion redevelopment, but there are concerns about whether the funds can be muddled together to make it happen. Having a major Premier League club as a stakeholder wouldn’t do the figures any harm.
Should they make the three-mile, cross-river move, the Battersea Blues (as the club almost certainly wouldn’t be re-christened) would lose their unique position as the only London club to have stayed put throughout their 106-year history. While fans might appreciate the club’s ambition, the departure from SW6, and conceding the west London bragging rights to Fulham and QPR, might rankle.
Photo / KeriBevan