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Chelsea in talks to leave Stamford Bridge and move to Earls Court

Chelsea Football Club are in talks to quit their 105-year old home at Stamford Bridge and build a ground on the site of the soon- to-be-demolished Earls Court exhibition centre to hold at least 60,000 spectators, the Guardian has learned.

The Premier League champions, owned by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, are considering a move to the prime west London site just half a mile from their existing home amid growing concern they are losing ground to rivals with bigger and bigger stadiums.

Discussions have been kept secret because the move could torpedo a plan by the leading architect Sir Terry Farrell to transform Earls Court into a new residential enclave with more than 8,000 new homes. The scheme enters the latest phase of public consultation this week and is being undertaken with fellow landowners, Transport for London and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

"The discussion is now on again," said a source close to the deal. "It is largely because the owners are progressing alternative uses for the site and there's lots more urgency for Chelsea to make a decision. From Chelsea's point of view this is their last opportunity to get a new ground and stay in the same area they have been in for over a century."

Chelsea flirted with acquiring the same site four years ago but talks came to nothing. Now the site is larger and Chelsea's chairman, Bruce Buck, has been warned the club faces a "deficit" as a result of Stamford Bridge's lack of capacity.

"There have been discussions about it and the club is clearly considering its next step," confirmed a source close to Chelsea, who added that negotiations are at an early stage and no deal has been signed.

The club has met the site's owner, Capital and Counties, in recent months and Chelsea and its advisers are holding "a series of key meetings to decide whether to pursue a bid or not", according to a source close to the talks.

A new stadium would not be ready until 2015 because Earls Court is scheduled to host the 2012 Olympic volleyball competition before the exhibition centre is demolished. After 73 years in which it has hosted gigs by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Oasis and Madonna, its economic viability has been compromised by the establishment of major new concert and conference venues elsewhere in London, including the 02 arena at the Millennium Dome.

Tonight Buck said it was "very difficult for us to make the philosophical decision that we are going to move on", but conceded that the lack of capacity at Stamford Bridge left it out of pocket compared with other clubs.

"Certainly we wouldn't leave west London or thereabouts and there are very few sites available," he said. "We have to do things with our other commercial activities to make up the deficit that is created by the fact we don't have a 60,000 seat stadium. We can't say that we will never move or have a new stadium but at the moment, it's not at the front of our agenda."

However, Chelsea insiders said Buck is keen to boost matchday takings because Uefa is introducing rules limiting the ability of super-rich owners to bankroll clubs without squaring spending with revenues. Despite winning the league last season, the club was only fifth in terms of average attendance in football's top flight behind Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool. Stamford Bridge accommodates around 41,000 fans compared with 76,000 at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground and 60,000 at Arsenal's Emirates stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United recently made bids to occupy the 80,000 seat Olympic stadium.

The emergence of Chelsea's renewed interest in Earls Court is awkward for Capital and Counties, which has launched a public charm offensive for its housing project employing Edelman, the international public relations company. It is promoting the "four villages and a high street" vision for the area and declined to comment on negotiations with Chelsea.

"Our vision for Earls Court is for a world class residential-led development delivering thousands of new homes and jobs, and creating a remarkable new place in London," a spokesman said. "As part of that we maintain discussions with a wide range of stakeholders and neighbouring landowners including both local authorities, TfL, the GLA and the local community."

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I'm glad my insightful, well structured reply lead to a response :)

Buck has said manier times that we won't be moving, of course take everything with a pinch of salt, but I can't see it happening in the near future.

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Doubt it will happen, but one has to wonder what Chelsea should do. According to premierleague.com Stamford Bridge can take almost 42500 and we have, so far, an average of almost 41600. We could do with more seats. Would mean more money.

Not sure how much we can expand at our current place, but I doubt it's much.

So the question is do we:

a) stay where we are. At the place where we've been for a very, very long time.

or

B) build a new - and hopefully improved - stadium which will lead to more income.

With the new rules about clubs not being able to spend more than they earn (or something like that), getting more money will be important.

But 105 years is a very long time and one does not want to give that up easily.

Personally I'm torn. I want us to stay, but also get a new and bigger stadium. Tricky.

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I'm slightly concerned that we couldn't fill a 60k-er. Also we don't want to end up with a soulless wreck like the Emirates.

Well, I think we could fill a 60k-er or atleast be close to filling it. Not in every game of course, but most of the times. I would be surprised if we didn't get an average of 50-55k.

But I agree about the 2nd part. If we move to a new place we have to bring our soul with us. Stamford is packed with history, heart, legends, love and alot more that makes it a great place to be for Chelsea. If we move, it has to be to a place where we feel at home. Home games should not feel like away games.

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Roman Abramovich's Chelsea FC have been in high level talks to leave Stamford Bridge and move to Earls Court. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images

Chelsea Football Club are in talks to quit their 105-year old home at Stamford Bridge and build a ground on the site of the soon- to-be-demolished Earls Court exhibition centre to hold at least 60,000 spectators, the Guardian has learned.

The Premier League champions, owned by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, are considering a move to the prime west London site just half a mile from their existing home amid growing concern they are losing ground to rivals with bigger and bigger stadiums.

Discussions have been kept secret because the move could torpedo a plan by the leading architect Sir Terry Farrell to transform Earls Court into a new residential enclave with more than 8,000 new homes. The scheme enters the latest phase of public consultation this week and is being undertaken with fellow landowners, Transport for London and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

"The discussion is now on again," said a source close to the deal. "It is largely because the owners are progressing alternative uses for the site and there's lots more urgency for Chelsea to make a decision. From Chelsea's point of view this is their last opportunity to get a new ground and stay in the same area they have been in for over a century."

Chelsea flirted with acquiring the same site four years ago but talks came to nothing. Now the site is larger and Chelsea's chairman, Bruce Buck, has been warned the club faces a "deficit" as a result of Stamford Bridge's lack of capacity.

"There have been discussions about it and the club is clearly considering its next step," confirmed a source close to Chelsea, who added that negotiations are at an early stage and no deal has been signed.

The club has met the site's owner, Capital and Counties, in recent months and Chelsea and its advisers are holding "a series of key meetings to decide whether to pursue a bid or not", according to a source close to the talks.

A new stadium would not be ready until 2015 because Earls Court is scheduled to host the 2012 Olympic volleyball competition before the exhibition centre is demolished. After 73 years in which it has hosted gigs by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Oasis and Madonna, its economic viability has been compromised by the establishment of major new concert and conference venues elsewhere in London, including the 02 arena at the Millennium Dome.

Tonight Buck said it was "very difficult for us to make the philosophical decision that we are going to move on", but conceded that the lack of capacity at Stamford Bridge left it out of pocket compared with other clubs.

"Certainly we wouldn't leave west London or thereabouts and there are very few sites available," he said. "We have to do things with our other commercial activities to make up the deficit that is created by the fact we don't have a 60,000 seat stadium. We can't say that we will never move or have a new stadium but at the moment, it's not at the front of our agenda."

However, Chelsea insiders said Buck is keen to boost matchday takings because Uefa is introducing rules limiting the ability of super-rich owners to bankroll clubs without squaring spending with revenues. Despite winning the league last season, the club was only fifth in terms of average attendance in football's top flight behind Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool. Stamford Bridge accommodates around 41,000 fans compared with 76,000 at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground and 60,000 at Arsenal's Emirates stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United recently made bids to occupy the 80,000 seat Olympic stadium.

The emergence of Chelsea's renewed interest in Earls Court is awkward for Capital and Counties, which has launched a public charm offensive for its housing project employing Edelman, the international public relations company. It is promoting the "four villages and a high street" vision for the area and declined to comment on negotiations with Chelsea.

"Our vision for Earls Court is for a world class residential-led development delivering thousands of new homes and jobs, and creating a remarkable new place in London," a spokesman said. "As part of that we maintain discussions with a wide range of stakeholders and neighbouring landowners including both local authorities, TfL, the GLA and the local community."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/nov/08/chelsea-leave-stamford-earls-court

New reports starting up again that we are looking at moving from the Bridge. Same area of land that we almost bought a couple of years back. Would make a lot of sense in the long term financially to do it. However there is also the attachment to the Bridge which has been home to the club for 105 years now. Would be very interested to hear what everyone else thinks of this, especially the older fans.

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This is one that's bound to crop up from time to time. I'm not sure why it surface just now though.

Chances are it's just another steaming pile of crap. Let's hope so.

Bingo. This is just like the "Roman is leaving" or "Ronaldinho/Kaka to Chelsea" stories. I dont really believe an owner as in touch with the fans as Roman would ever consider it. He is too prudent for this.

Follow Arsenal's model on this one. They didnt consider moving stadiums until Higbury had a ST waiting list miles long. If we do the same thing, and wait until demand is absolutely there to justify such an upgrade (say 15-20 years) then the situation re: expansion at the current site might have changed.

I would never want to see the club leave SB. But I admit the idea of playing in the Battersea Power Station gave me chills. Yes, I realize its like 3x far away and south of the river.

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If we leave our current location, it's my understanding that we lose the name 'Stamford Bridge" too. I'd rather not have us move to the "Samsung Stadium!" Having said that though, there is no smoke without fire, and this has done the rounds time and time again so I fear there may be some momentum to this story. Unfortunately, if you look around Europe, and I am sure our chairpersons are, you don't see too many clubs at the top level using a 45000 seater stadium.

Best case scenario, but we've been down this road before and know the limitations of the real estate surrounding the bridge, is we find a way to expand the current Stamford Bridge. I wonder if we went into a "bowl" style stadium how hard that would be, and how much it would increase capacity?

Scott

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Inevitable really given that salary capping for the whole of Europe clubland would be difficult if not impossible to implement. In those circumstances what other options does Roman really have? Apart from the UEFA level playing field stuff (being the only real alternative to salary capping of clubs) which to be honest and notwithstanding what most of us think of the present UEFA heirarchy given their on-going bias against us, is the right step, it is trite that without the extra 15 to 20 odd thousand through the turnstiles each game, Chels will, over the longer term, not be able to attract the best let alone starting to pay back to Roman the substantial amounts he's invested in us. And I would've thought that over the long term, and should it proceed, it may be a long term stabiliser for ticket prices as well. As to whether it happens though....London Councils...a kafkaesque nightmare.

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I know I've said it before, but if we leave Stamford Bridge it will be the end of Chelsea Football Club so far as I'm concerned.

Stamford Bridge has always been our home, something we should be proud of - not many clubs can say they've never moved stadiums. Three FA Cup Finals have been held at the Bridge, England have played there at both full and under-23 levels, and the stadium has played host to a number of other sports events, including greyhound racing, speedway racing, athletics, cricket and many others - the place is home to loads of history.

I've loved Stamford Bridge ever since my first visit in 1967 - even though it still had a greyhound track surrounding the pitch! Ever since I was a kid I wanted Chelsea to play in a ground where the fans were close to the pitch, but when that dream finally came true, it turned into a kind of nightmare - all seats, no terraces, f*ck the Taylor Report!

Even so, I've got over forty years of great memories of Stamford Bridge, and if we leave, we'll just turn into another club with an anonymous stadium named after some poxy sponsors. The club will have finally sold it's soul, something I want no part of.

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If there is absolutely no option to expand the Bridge then we don't have much choice in the long run... as difficult as it may seem now to move. We cant be League champions in the future and have a stadium half the size of West Ham's! Its all about the ££££

If its less than half a mile away it wouldn't be so bad. It would be the dogs danglies by the time its finished.

I cant see Roman building a new stadium and not incorporating the soul of the club.

Like in religion; the church is the people, not the building.

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I think the best way they could settle this situation is to produce an outline of exactly what the new stadium would be, possibly some artwork, and how the transport links would work. Send that to every member and ST holder, and give them a vote each. Let the members and season ticket holders decide, it's the only real way, as they're the ones who will be buying the tickets for the new stadium, if they would like to move, or if they wouldn't, it'd set it up.

As far as I'm aware the options for raising the extra money were in order:

1. Expand Stamford Bridge

2. Sponsored name

3. Relocation.

So if they're reconsidering this, does that mean that options one, and two didn't work out? So most likely they couldn't expand Stamford Bridge because of planning permission, and possibly couldn't raise enough money through a sponsored name. Which would leave the last and least desirable option. That's my take on why this is coming round again.

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According to the Telegraph, the current crop of stories has resulted from an attempt to sell the Eals Court site to Chelsea FC as opposed to any actual discussion of or intention to move to a new stadium:

Chelsea set to reject latest offer to relocate Stamford Bridge to Earls Court

Chelsea have had another approach to quit their Stamford Bridge stadium and move to nearby Earls Court in west London but are extremely unlikely to accept the offer.

The move has come from Capital and Counties, the owners of the site, currently the home of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, which is soon to be demolished, who are trying to maximise their returns by trying to once again tempt the Premier League champions.

Chelsea first looked at the site more than three years ago but dismissed the move as unfeasible. With a deadline looming – the end of this year – as to what is to be developed at Earls Court, the club has received another approach.

Last night a Chelsea spokesman said: “We will always look at proposals put to us and we get two or three of these a year. But we have no plans to move stadium at this time.†At present the plan is to build 8,000 new homes but this will not yield as great a return as having Chelsea move into a new 60,000-seat stadium.

However, Chelsea are dismissing the approach, unless the club is made an offer it cannot refuse, and are working on a naming rights deal for the next 10 years at the Bridge to boost revenues.

It’s not impossible that such a deal could be 'ported’ to a new stadium but, given the new financial realities that are dawning on football, club owner Roman Abramovich is unlikely to want to commit hundreds of millions of pounds in capital costs on a new stadium.

Chelsea have constantly reviewed whether they can expand their existing stadium and whether there is the demand to warrant it. One plan has been to add an extra tier – and 5,000 more seats – but the costs involved are prohibitive and would take too long to recoup.

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I'm slightly concerned that we couldn't fill a 60k-er. Also we don't want to end up with a soulless wreck like the Emirates.

Is this based on firsthand experience as in you attended a game there?

I went for the first time a few weeks ago and was very, very impressed. Have to say I was dead jealous of the ground and facilities. It is good ground and a good place to watch football.

I thought the atmosphere was very good with a lot more noise than Highbury

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Is this based on firsthand experience as in you attended a game there?

I went for the first time a few weeks ago and was very, very impressed. Have to say I was dead jealous of the ground and facilities. It is good ground and a good place to watch football.

I thought the atmosphere was very good with a lot more noise than Highbury

Ive been impressed on my two visits as well (away game in 07 and brazil v arg friendly). Its a magnificent setup and i can imagine every seat giving a great view. I would advise people who are dubious about moving to new stadiums to take a trip if they can. Its a million miles away from the souless breezeblock constructions like the Riverside, Ricoh Britannia etc.

The transport links arent great though and is the main reason it starts to emtpy long before the final whistle. I guess that wouldnt be so much of an issue for us as Earls Court as its a big station well used to heavy traffic but its certainly something to ponder.

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Well, it has to be done. As long as we can`t expand Stamford Bridge we really don`t have any other choice.

We are "loosing" millions of millions of pounds every season because we have a much smaller stadium than our main rivals(Arsenal, United) and if we want to break-even and still be a contender for the title in years to come we eighter have to find a way to expand SB(preferably of course) or move to a new stadium.

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Well, it has to be done. As long as we can`t expand Stamford Bridge we really don`t have any other choice.

We are "loosing" millions of millions of pounds every season because we have a much smaller stadium than our main rivals(Arsenal, United) and if we want to break-even and still be a contender for the title in years to come we eighter have to find a way to expand SB(preferably of course) or move to a new stadium.

Strange how Bruce Buck actually said he was looking for other ways to create income than move away from the Bridge, an income that has progressively climbed to a very good level with us only just behind Arsenal and catching Utd.

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Strange how Bruce Buck actually said he was looking for other ways to create income than move away from the Bridge, an income that has progressively climbed to a very good level with us only just behind Arsenal and catching Utd.

Income of what? Matchday-income or total income over a full year?

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Income of what? Matchday-income or total income over a full year?

Overall income as a club. If we can compete with Utd and Arsenal etc without having to move due to other income streams then surely thats a good thing.

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Well, it has to be done. As long as we can`t expand Stamford Bridge we really don`t have any other choice.

We are "loosing" millions of millions of pounds every season because we have a much smaller stadium than our main rivals(Arsenal, United) and if we want to break-even and still be a contender for the title in years to come we eighter have to find a way to expand SB(preferably of course) or move to a new stadium.

I have to disagree. Firstly we have to face facts, our crowds aren't likely to be as large as those of Man U for the foreseeable future. Like it or not, Arsenal are historically a bigger club tban ourselves and have a bigger fanbase to match. We might sell out a 60,000 seater stadium for a few big games, but most of the time it's likely to be three quarters empty at best, and nothing kills atmosphere like empty seats. So it's quite possible that we could end up with a massive bill for a massive stadium that we can't fill.

On a cautiionary note: the closest parallel I can think of in our history is the East Stand, built in the '70s as the first stage of a planned redevelopment that never took place because it the expected success never materialised. That little project came very close to putting the club out of business. Obviously circumstances today are very different from how things were back in the '70s, but even so there's always a possibility that things will go tits up, and we could be left with an even larger millstone round our necks.

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