Fans group will give new Chelsea owner a huge problem expanding or relocating from Stamford Bridge


Powerful fans group Chelsea Pitch Owners will give prospective buyers a huge headache over expanding Stamford Bridge or relocating – and they will face HUGE expense and red tape

  • The new owners of Chelsea will face the same headaches as Roman Abramovich 
  • Abramovich gained planning permission to expand the Stamford Bridge ground 
  • But the move collapsed and a strong fan group could prevent another proposal
  • Any development needs 75 per cent of the Chelsea Pitch Owners to agree to it











The new owners of Chelsea – as and when Roman Abramovich completes a sale of the club – will face the same headaches as the Russian billionaire over expanding Stamford Bridge or relocating, not least because of the power of the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO).

One vital area where Chelsea remain uncompetitive compared to rivals is their stadium’s 41,837 capacity, in an era when West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham to name just three clubs in London alone each have modern grounds than can hold between 60,000 and 63,000 supporters.

The upshot is Chelsea are earning as little as half as much each season from matchday income: tickets, hospitality, catering, food and drink sales and club shop visitors.

Chelsea’s new owners will face the same issues as Roman Abramovich in doing up the stadium

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Current owner Abramovich, selling the club, got planning permission to redevelop Stamford Bridge in 2017, but the project never really got going and planning permission expired in 2021

Current owner Abramovich, selling the club, got planning permission to redevelop Stamford Bridge in 2017, but the project never really got going and planning permission expired in 2021

A total of 75 per cent of fans group Chelsea Pitch Owners need to approve any future plans

A total of 75 per cent of fans group Chelsea Pitch Owners need to approve any future plans

In 2012 Chelsea explored the option of buying the site of Battersea Power Station (above) to build a new 60,000-seater there - but an earlier vote indicated the CPO would not approve it

In 2012 Chelsea explored the option of buying the site of Battersea Power Station (above) to build a new 60,000-seater there – but an earlier vote indicated the CPO would not approve it

Chelsea chief Roman Abramovich’s empire was built by his billions

Roman Abramovich’s arrival at Chelsea in the summer of 2003 changed football and he will depart as the most successful owner in modern English club history.

Chelsea weren’t no-hopers before the Russian bought the club from Ken Bates for £140million. They finished an average fifth place in the Premier League in the five seasons previously, and won the FA Cup in 1997 and 2000, and the League Cup in 1998.

But having only won a single top-flight title previously (in 1955), under Abramovich’s ownership Chelsea have won the Premier League five times, the Champions League twice, the FA Cup a further five times, the League Cup three times and the Europa League twice. 

Their average league finish in his time as owner has been third. Abramovich spent mountains for that success, or to be precise, close to £1billion, net, on transfers, and £3.7bn on wages since 2003. 

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Abramovich gained planning permission in 2017 for a redevelopment of Stamford Bridge that would increase capacity to 60,000, although it would have come at an eye-watering cost of nearly £2billion, including construction costs plus temporary relocation costs for several years.

As things transpired, the project never got off the ground and planning permission expired in 2021.

Before that, in 2012, Chelsea explored the option of buying the site of the Battersea Power Station to build a new 60,000-seater stadium there. But that would have required the CPO to approve it — an earlier vote indicated that would not happen.

The CPO group was founded in 1993 to ensure the club’s ground could never be sold off to property developers, and are a collective of more than 13,000 Chelsea fans around the world who own the freehold to the Stamford Bridge pitch and other parts of the stadium. 

The CPO also own the naming rights of Chelsea Football Club.

In 2011, Abramovich proposed buying back the freehold to Stamford Bridge and would have needed at least 75 per cent of CPO shareholders to agree.

Only 61.6 per cent voted in favour, even though the majority of Chelsea fans are grateful to Abramovich for his stewardship — and his cash that has helped to win so many trophies since he arrived in 2003.

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Any new owner wanting to expand the current stadium would face the enormous expense of doing so, and going through planning applications again. 

It is arguable whether the costs could be recouped through additional matchday income in less than several decades.

Abramovich is rich enough that profit alone wasn’t his main motivating factor in wanting a new state-of-the-art Stamford Bridge.

Relocation will also remain a massive problem for a new owner. They would need CPO approval to remain Chelsea Football Club at a different location.

And as one CPO source has told Sportsmail: ‘There is close to no chance that a vote now would even be as big as the 61 per cent in 2011, let alone the 75 per cent needed.’ 

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