Call me cynical, but I can’t help but wonder whether the timing of Chelsea’s recent announcement that they are trying to buy the Battersea Power Station site for a new stadium was very deliberate.
Make the announcement that the club is planning to move away from its home of 107 years the day before the FA Cup final and maybe the fans will be too busy with Wembley preparations to
And once we’ve beaten Liverpool, they will be too happy about the result to worry about much else.
“I don’t want to leave our spiritual home. It’s as simple as that.”
Certainly the reaction of some of the fans I spoke to about it at Wembley was along the vague lines of ‘Oh, yeah, I heard something about that…’
But it’s massively important to anyone who cares about the club’s history and traditions.
Chelsea are not like Arsenal, who like to think they are London’s great footballing aristocrats but have played at four grounds in different parts of London, under more than one name and with different colours.
We’ve always been Chelsea, playing in blue and white at Stamford Bridge.
I don’t want to leave our spiritual home. In all honesty, it’s as simple as that – I just don’t want to leave Stamford Bridge.
It is where Chelsea have always played and where we are meant to play.
You could throw tradition like that away if the club was in a terrible mess, the stadium was falling to bits and was woefully ill-suited to what we need. But it’s not.
Yes, it would be great if it could be a bit bigger. But the deputy leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council Nick Botterill reacted to the Battersea news by saying: “We want the Blues to stay at Stamford Bridge and – if it can be done sensibly without negatively affecting local people – increase the ground’s capacity so they can retain their position as one of Europe’s top clubs.”
So there is obviously some chance of that happening.
And what would happen if we did move to a 60,000-seater stadium at the power station site on the other side of the river?
About 18,000 more fans paying about £55 apiece to come to 19 league games a season. That’s just under £19m a year. If you take cup games into account it’s £20m.
That’s not to be sniffed at. But it’s also not life-changing.
The stadium would cost hundreds of millions to build, so it would take years of extra ticket sales and income to break even.
Who wants to be saddled with Arsenal-style stadium-building debt?
Chelsea have paid tens of millions of pounds in compensation to sacked managers over the past few years.
The upheaval which followed the departure of the manager who won us the Double will have cost us our accustomed place in the Champions League if we don’t manage to beat Bayern Munich, which would cost the club a fortune.
So if we’re looking for ways to bring in a few million pounds, then building a new stadium and breaking more than a century of tradition isn’t the only way.
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James Clarke is the author of Moody Blues: Following the second-best team in Europe