As you should be aware, Chelsea Pitch Owners is the non-profit organization that actually owns the Stamford Bridge freehold, which it then leases back to Chelsea FC for "football and ancillary" activities. While nowadays the threat of Stamford Bridge being sold off from underneath the club to real estate development is pretty small, the CPO has remained relevant in protecting the club's history, name, and ties to the local community from the whims of the club's owner and board. You might remember it playing a key role in the club's ultimately unsuccessful bid to buy the Battersea Power Station site.
As of October 2012, CPO has sold about 17,700 of the original 70,000 shares created to finance the purchase of the freehold. While technically the financing is now done through a £10m loan (back) from Chelsea Football Club (with which CPO purchased the freehold outright in 1997), the shares policy ensures that the ground continues to be owned by the fans... and the 20-25 shady stakeholders from 2011 who most likely represent certain interests of club higher-ups, but let's not worry too much about that right now.
In any case, when you buy a share (£100), you essentially become a part-owner of the Chelsea pitch - a unique and wonderful way to feel connected to your club. When the shares were originally doled out, numbers 1-200 were held back for special occasions. Last May, on the one-year anniversary of the Champions League final, Frank Lampard was presented with share number 200. And on Thursday, at CPO's 'One Special Evening' fundraiser, Jose Mourinho was presented with share number... wait for it... one! CPO share number one for The Special One. Jose Mourinho, Chelsea Pitch Owner. Truly, "one of us."
In connection with the fundraiser, José sat down with club historian Rick Glanvill for a quick interview. You should take the opportunity now to go and read it. It's well worth your time. Here's my favorite part:
When I come to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea v Monaco, and there were already lots of rumours that I would be next Chelsea manager, I was walking in front of the Chelsea hotel, going to the stand to get my ticket, and two people came to me and were telling me, not in an aggressive way, 'We don't want you here, we love Ranieri.' And my assistant said to me, 'We've got big problems.'
I said, 'No, the fans are good, they support their manager and probably one day it will happen the same with us.' They are loyal with their manager. I think it must be an extreme situation of bad results and bad feelings, no empathy, to have different situations.
They support the manager, support the players, they are very loyal. I think they have a big pride in their club a big, big pride. Especially in big matches they have a quiet profile, but what is in their heart I don't think is different to other noisy places, I just think it's a different profile. Away support is completely different. Away we always feel a different profile, but to be fair it is not a problem for me the Stamford Bridge atmosphere, because I know they love us.
-Jose Mourinho; source: CPO
Hey, who told you that you could open up my heart and read what's in it?! Oh wait, I did.