The four shortlisted bidders continue to vie for position as we enter the final week of bidding – scheduled for Monday April 11 – some more publicly than others, often out of necessity. Ricketts’ candidacy actively battled negative response from a wide range of Chelsea fans, while the others were able to focus on keeping things more positive or secret.
According to the Telegraph, all four bid groups will meet with Chelsea bosses this week, in addition to any public relations work with fans, with the stadium issue being one of the main topics of discussion. It’s the missing centerpiece of Roman Abramovich’s sporting legacy in the SW6, even though the plans that were laid out before being scrapped were truly spectacular. It is also the biggest challenge the club will face in the future, and for which the candidate groups are required to set aside a certain amount.
The planning permission for this ‘football cathedral’ design expired almost exactly two years ago, although I’m sure they could be revived if the new owners wished. That said, according to the report, Boehly and Broughton’s offers explore a ‘stand by stand’ rebuild, which sounds good in theory but may not be as feasible as for Liverpool and Anfield.
Chelsea bidders explore Anfield-style redevelopment of Stamford Bridge
Sir Martin Broughton and Boehly-led bands eye rebuild on stand-by, rather than complete demolition and the prospect of playing away from home for five years | @Matt_Law_DT #cfc https://t.co/JdUXfTux1I
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) April 4, 2022
The Stamford Bridge construction site is limited in all directions and although some of the square footage can be increased by knocking down some (but not all) buildings and with decking over the railway tracks, the height is strictly limited by London building code. One of the ways the old plans could accommodate a 60,000 seater was to dig in and lower the ground itself. It’s hard to see how this could easily be accomplished while still playing in the stadium, which a stand-by-stand rebuild would seek to enable above all else (while keeping costs more manageable, presumably).
That said, such a piecemeal reconstruction would certainly fit with the ethos of the existing stadium, which has evolved in precisely that way since the first iteration in 1877 of a large oval bowl with a running track and covered structure. The current East Stand dates back to 1973 (and it shows, especially on the inside), the North (Matthew Harding) and South (Hangar) stands end in the mid-90s, while the West Stand, which is the ” The stadium’s current exterior face was only completed in 2001, with recent scaling of the upper tiers as well (i.e. Westview).
Two of the biggest financial crises in the club’s history were caused by the construction of the East and West stands, so hopefully it can be avoided this time around, whatever bid and plan wins!
Another interesting note from the report is that Boehly’s offer would be open to forgiveness and cancellation of the £8million loan that Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) technically owe the club, which would be a great gesture that all candidate groups should seek to do. . The CPO owns full ownership of Stamford Bridge as well as the club’s naming rights – more than just words, supporting the CPO would show the right deed to respect the club’s history and heritage.