It's a throwaway line at the end of Dan Levene's latest report about the timeline of the Stamford Bridge rebuild, but apparently the naming rights of the stadium will be up for grabs once the whole thing is finished by the summer of 2020.
The ambitious plan would be for the new Stamford Bridge to be ready on the opening day of the 2020-21 season. Though, of course, it would not be called that – with the naming rights up for grabs as part of the rebuild.
Levene claims that this has been a given since the start of the project, though this is the first time I'm seeing it spelled out so clearly.
@SW6JD @Eurosport_UK The naming rights? I have it on good authority that has always been part and parcel of any new stadium development.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) September 7, 2015
A necessary evil, perhaps, in these modern footballing times. Year-by-year, Stamford Bridge becomes increasingly rare as a stadium in the world of sports without a sponsor, after all. But, even if we're clever about the naming scheme — i.e. Samsung Stadium at Stamford Bridge, as we were guessing in 2011 when Ron Gourlay was looking to cash-in on the marquee — many will not be keen on this, I suspect. Then again, we're already walking billboards for Yokohama and adidas, so what's another corporate logo to add to the collection. It's not like anyone will not call it Stamford Bridge still, outside of official documents and presentations of course.
Plus, as Levene's report mentions, the naming rights may not even be the most contentious issue for the new Bridge. Just wait until we try to resolve the whole CPO/freehold-ownership bit! That turned into a bit of an ugly episode between club ownership and pitch ownership last time, and while Abramovich and Co have moved much more considerately since, there's every chance that blows up into controversy once again...
Be sure to click over and read the rest of Levene's report, to learn about a few political angles that need to be considered as well, especially with a mayoral election coming up in London. Fun times ahead, to be sure.