Though the idea that Chelsea are looking to leave their only home for a new and larger one shouldn't really be a surprise at this point, it's always going to be an emotional topic. We all know that our current capacity isn't really enough to sustain our current level of success indefinitely, especially with rivals elsewhere expanding the own stadia or moving to bigger ones. We also know that it's probably infeasible for the club to expand the current stadium. It could be done, but at an unthinkable cost to the club.
Of course, no matter how feasible the plan, there remains the barrier of the Chelsea Pitch Owners to deal with. After all, they still hold the freehold on the land on which the stadium sits and the right to the Chelsea name. They're probably not a true obstacle to a move, but they make it more difficult to accomplish. Even though the club failed in its last attempt at buying back the freehold, it was only a marginal loss. Given that and the positive response to the subsequently-released artist's rendition of the plans for the failed Battersea Power Station site, I personally don't think the club will fail a second time if they come in prepared.
Part of any preparation will be a solid plan for a move elsewhere, and probably a winning bid already in hand. With the potential options for a local move quickly dwindling, due to the built-up nature of the area, that bid is probably going to have to come in the very near future. Accordingly, there have been reports recently which should give Chelsea fans hope.
The first, as reported in the Mail, is for the club to finally jump in on the Earl's Court redevelopment. The Lillie Bridge development has long been assumed to become a part of the existing plan. However, it appears that that portion will not be included in the CapCo plan. Instead, the 17-acre site will be sold on the open market by Transport for London. That opens it up to a potential Chelsea bid. Given the aforementioned lack of local alternatives, Roman Abramovich may bring the full weight of his chequebook upon the site.
Looking at the map of the site, I think it's somewhat-questionable that Chelsea would actually be able to put a stadium of sufficient capacity on the site. It measures 17 acres to Stamford Bridge's 12.5, but it's a fairly-narrow stretch of land. It may not, in fact, be big or wide enough for us to put in a 60,000-seat stadium. The club say they need 18-20 acres in a square configuration. As with our current home, it abuts a rail line. This may affect the stadium's egress routes, which is one the major issues affecting a redevelopment of Stamford Bridge.
All that said, it's unlikely that the Mail would be running a story about it without at least some feeling that Chelsea are looking into the site. There's not really any reason for them to talk about potential Chelsea sites for nothing. I don't know if you'll realise this, but stadium transfer rumours aren't quite as popular as a player or manager transfer rumours. If these reports prove to be correct, however, we should be seeing more on this and the CPO issue in the coming months. Either way, it's an interesting time for Chelsea and the CPO.
Also in the news, and on a more speculative bent, there might be a slight chance that Chelsea could be back in at Battersea. As you'll no doubt remember, Chelsea lost out to a bid by SP Setia and Sime Darby for the site. A few weeks ago, as reported on the page of a Power Station preservation group, Sime Darby have come in £250m short of their funding for the first phase of the project. I have no idea if or how that news could affect the current plans for the Power Station, but it's an interesting development and one to keep an eye on. [HT to Joe Clock on Twitter]