The biggest commitment, outside of continued investment in the playing squads of both the men’s and women’s teams, that the new owners made when acquiring Chelsea Football Club was the commitment to spending over £1b on stadium (re-)development — in whatever form. Whether that was a full rebuild or a piece-by-piece refurbishment, the new owners were expected to finish the one thing that Roman Abramovich didn’t quite get to in his two decades of ownership.
The focus so far has been understandably on the squad rebuild and operational reorg behind the scenes, but talks regarding the stadium have been going on in the background as well, as a rundown from the Telegraph assures today. Some of those have been focused on planning, some on the site itself (the Stoll
purchase auction is still in play), and some with the Chelsea Pitch Owners, who of course own the freehold of the stadium as well as the Chelsea Football Club name. (You, too, can become a Pitch Owner, if you haven’t yet, here!)
Essentially, the CPO ensure that Chelsea cannot (easily) move from the Bridge — and still be called Chelsea. Even Abramovich got into some hot water around that issue, when he tried a few shady moves to take over that organization back when we were just starting to consider this whole aging, relatively small stadium boondoggle.
Beyond an agreement with the CPO, any stadium development project would have to decide between a full rebuild or a partial, stand-by-stand approach. Neither is ideal, and would involve either the club having to temporarily move away, or play in a half-built, reduced-capacity stadium. The plans — amazing plans, I might add — that had been approved under the previous administration, before Abramovich shelved them due to an “unfavorable investment climate” (i.e. no visa), called for at least three years away but maybe as many as five, at a location never quite figured out (Wembley, most likely, as Tottenham also had to do). Those plans had targeted a capacity of around 60,000; the current thinking is “at least 55,000”.
The upshot of it all is that, “ideally”, Boehly & Co apparently want Chelsea “to be playing in a new stadium in or around 2030”. Given that a full rebuild, which is “currently emerging as the most likely option” would take at least five years, not including the planning permission itself, which alone might take a couple years, we’re going to have get moving on this soon to hit that target.