Roman Abramovich has been warned that Chelsea supporters will not give up their ownership of Stamford Bridge without a fight.
The Blues have announced plans to buy back the stadium’s freehold from Chelsea Pitch Owners – a company set up by fans in 1993 to safeguard the club’s financial security and avoid ownership of the ground falling into the hands of property developers.
The club’s proposal has been dubbed the first major step towards a move to a new 60,000-seater stadium away from SW6.
And Trizia Fiorellino, chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group, believes CPO’s 12,000 shareholders would almost exclusively vote ‘no’ to selling their ownership of the ground – and are going as far as to seek legal action to stop the Russian billionaire getting his way.
“The feedback I’ve been getting is that the majority of those that own shares in CPO will vote ‘no,” she told West London Sport.
“We are consulting a number of different people on how far we can go to oppose this – and we have legal people on the team.
“We are also speaking to other fan groups who have been in similar situations, and canvassing opinion in order to make a more informed decision. The Chelsea Supporters Group will almost exclusively vote ‘no’.”
She added: “I’ll be damned if I’m going to go down without a fight.”
Should CPO’s shareholders sell their 15,000 shares to the club for the £10m they collectively paid for them, Abramovich would own a highly valuable piece of land, the sale of which would provide a significant amount towards the building of a new stadium elsewhere.
In return for the shares, the Chelsea owner has offered incentives at any new stadium including exclusivity on season tickets, plus a guarantee that Chelsea would only relocate within a three-mile radius of the Bridge if they move before 2020.
It is rumoured that the club have sought information on a number of possible sites, including Earls Court and Battersea Nine Elms.
They have also been linked with a potentially viable plot of land in White City near the Loftus Road home of west London neighbours QPR, who are also interested in the site.
QPR vice-chairman Amit Bhatia recently ruled out a groundshare with Chelsea, who believe a bigger stadium would enable the Blues to compete financially with the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City in the future.
It has also been reported that Chelsea will look at property across the entire capital, and Fiorellino said a move out of a three-mile radius would be unacceptable.
“It’s really telling that they are offering such incentives to get shareholders to sell,” she added.
“They’re bribes. If their intentions were in the best interests of the supporters then they wouldn’t need to bribe them.”