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.
“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.
Tonight [Chelsea chairman Bruce] 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. (The Guardian)