Vince Cable, the government’s business secretary and Liberal Democrat MP, has expressed his concern about reports that Chelsea could temporarily move to Twickenham while Stamford Bridge is renovated.
Chelsea have long-held plans to increase their capacity and have extensively looked for sites where they would be able to construct a new stadium, and even submitted an ambitious proposal to redevelop Battersea Power Station.
But it would now appear that Chelsea have abandoned the idea of leaving their current home on a permanent basis, and will instead look to push their number of seats up to around 60,000. This, reports the Sunday Times, has led the club to find a temporary base while construction work happens.
A spokesperson for the RFU, tenants of Twickenham, has confirmed that Chelsea have made contact regarding a potential move into the home of English rugby for a single season, although it is a development that worries Cable.
The Member of Parliament for Twickenham tweeted on Monday afternoon that he has followed up the claims by making contact with the RFU in order to gauge the truth.
Cable posted: “I have written today to RFU about Twickenham Stadium and possible use for a year by Chelsea FC. V serious concerns and need for facts ASAP.”
Chelsea have yet to announce that they will improve Stamford Bridge, although the club released a statement in June confirming that feasibility of doing so is being explored. It would appear to remain the most likely option.
Should they push ahead with these plans, they would have to place them on hold until at least the 2016-17 season if a move to Twickenham is to happen. The Rugby World Cup will be held at the 80,000-seat arena late in 2015, meaning Chelsea would have to wait until the following year at the earliest to move in.
Chelsea may be London’s biggest club but they are falling behind their neighbours in terms of stadium size. Arsenal moved into the Emirates Stadium eight years ago, while Tottenham are redeveloping White Hart Lane and West Ham will be based at the Olympic Stadium from 2016.