As most of you will be aware, Chelsea have recently made an offer to Chelsea Pitch Owners, PLC (the CPO, for future reference) for the freehold on which Stamford Bridge sits. In the early 1990s, the CPO was formed in order to protect the stadium from the ghastly spectacle of being sold to property developers and turned into a bunch of trendy flats. At this point, Chelsea were in financial trouble and the prospect of a forced move was very real.
With the CPO a 15,000 share-strong Chelsea fan collective, it would have been nearly impossible to move the Blues away from the Bridge, and every Blues fans should be grateful that the investors helped protect the club's interests during a really difficult time. The CPO can rightly look at themselves as a guardian of Chelsea's traditions, and that's a role I hope they can continue in the future.
I also believe that a stadium move is both inevitable and necessary should Chelsea wish to remain a top-tier club. There's been a lot of support for the idea behind staying at Stamford Bridge, and to be honest, much of it has been irrational to the point where it hurts the cause. But, to be honest, that's true of the pro-move camp as well. Do we know that Chelsea's new stadium will solve our problems? No. Do we know that Chelsea have exhausted all of their options regarding staying at Stamford Bridge? No again.
And that's why, despite supporting a move in principle, I am hoping that the CPO says no to Chelsea's proposal.
The reasoning is pretty simple - if the CPO vote yes to Chelsea's proposal, they're giving the club carte blanche to do whatever they like, and it's not at all clear that what the club will do is in the best interest of the fans. There is value in having fans act as a brake on the club's ambitions, because unlike the ownership and the executive parts of Chelsea, we're kind of stuck with the team forever. A cookie-cutter stadium would be unacceptable. A long move would be unacceptable. However unlikely you think those two outcomes would be, that likelihood drops to zero percent if the CPO turns Chelsea down there.
However, a straight 'no' would, from my perspective, be completely selfish. Just as the club should not be allowed to unilaterally take decisions that hurt us in the long run, the fans shouldn't be allowed to completely block progress because of sentimentality. What needs to happen here is that the CPO uses its leverage to a) get some sort of reward for helping to save the club and more importantly b) force Chelsea into explaining what their plans actually are.
We're completely in the dark on this one, and arguing that Chelsea should move without knowing where they would move to and with flimsy legal promises that a three-mile move wouldn't happen before 2020 is just as crazy pants as wanting the Blues to stay at Stamford Bridge no matter what. When the club shares all of its information with the CPO shareholders, we'll have a much better idea of the situation, and so that's what needs to happen. Any decision made before the details are reviewed is going to be one purely based on emotion, and that's not a good recipe for the future of Chelsea.