Ever since the days of Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli and Gianfranco Zola, Chelsea have been on an upward spiral. They were the last club team to win an FA Cup at the old Wembley and their stock has grown worldwide after Roman Abramovich purchased the club.
The Russian billionaire has helped Chelsea fans realise their dreams of winning the Premier League and has captured the most sought-after trophy, the UEFA Champions League.
Naturally, the more successful a club, the more people want to go and watch them. Now is a time where Chelsea seems to have out-grown their historic home which cannot cope with the demands of fans that struggle to get tickets for any given game.
Abramovich has been looking at relocating the club in the local area. There were high hopes that Chelsea would be able to purchase Battersea Power Station and somehow incorporate the legendary chimneys in the design, however, their plans were ruined when a Malaysian firm were named as the preferred bidders.
There was of course another option, Earls Court - an ageing expedition centre that is not far away from their current home, Stamford Bridge. Chelsea fanzines have printed rumours of an Earls Court purchase for the past few years but it seems as if Chelsea have failed in their attempt to capture the land. The local council prefers to regenerate the area, which would include over 7,000 new homes.
Council Leader Nicholas Botterill said in a statement: "There really is no place for Chelsea within the Earls Court redevelopment and it remains the council’s firm belief that the future of Stamford Bridge is best served at their historic home."
Below, we look at five potential sites around Chelsea’s local area.
This could be the best choice for Chelsea to build a new stadium - it has a central London location and isn’t far from their current home. The Nine Elms area has splendid views of the river Thames and is situated next to the iconic Battersea Power Station. It remains to be seen if they could acquire enough land to build a state of the art stadium here.
White City has a potential as a site because it has brilliant transport links, with the old BBC television centre situated there. The land is currently occupied by Unigate Dairies building but this could be an ideal location for the west London club. However, there would be staunch opposition from Queens Park Rangers, who are only a matter of minutes away.
Wormwood Scrubs is notorious because of its prison which takes it’s name from open parkland nearby. Again, this could be a good location for Chelsea as there is enough land to build and the transport links are good. But if Chelsea were to put a bid in for the site, there would be strong opposition from conservationists and the like.
In a perfect world, Chelsea could purchase land here and build their new home. There is an already existing transport link to Hyde Park and the park itself has hosted massive events in the past, which shows it’s capable of supporting large crowds. But even a rumour of a Chelsea bid would send historians, conservationists and everyone else into meltdown.
The local council have said they would prefer Chelsea to develop their existing home. But would the local area be able to support another 20,000 plus fans? Parking around the area is minimal, there is always a hefty queue and the Fulham Broadway station and the local pubs have turned away from relying on football fans and are instead after a different clientele. Some pubs in the area won't even let football fans in. There is also the problem of the local residence that do not wish Stamford Bridge to be built any higher, almost ruining plans for the west stand expansion under the reign of Ken Bates.
In order to move, Chelsea also need to buy the ground back from the Chelsea Pitch Owners shareholders which has already been met with resistance from the Chelsea fans. With real estate extremely limited in the area, one has to wonder what the next step is for Chelsea. A move out of the area is out of the question and the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge seems the more likely option. However, the only plausible place to build would be at the Shed End. Whatever the outcome, Chelsea will still attract thousands of fans wishing to see their heroes in the flesh.
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