Chelsea have entered a new era under the ownership of Todd Boehly’s consortium, and with the transfer window soon to open, the world will soon have a clear indication of the group’s plans for the Blues. However, the Blues’ new premiership will be judged upon more than whether they acquire Ousmane Dembele this summer.
One facet will be what the future holds for Stamford Bridge. While an iconic stadium, the ground has long been an asset designed as an area where they could fall behind their rivals. With more contemporary infrastructure and increased capacities being developed across the nation to see the Blues barely make the top 10 in the Premier League in terms of potential attendance.
Indeed, during the bidding process with Raine Group, one of the areas the Boehly camp is said to have excelled in was their plans for the stadium. Reports emerged early in the takeover process that the consortium had engaged in talks over the redevelopment. Jonathan Goldstein, a property developer, is part of the consortium and talks were said to be underway with David Hickey, the former project director for the abandoned attempt led by Roman Abramovich. There was even the claim that increasing capacity to 62,500 could help see the matchday revenue almost triple.
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While the difficulty of Stamford Bridge’s location has long been documented due to its proximity to the likes of Fulham Broadway, the ground is also unique in that it is owned by a group separate from the Club. Chelsea Pitch Owners hold the freehold to Stamford Bridge and the name of Chelsea FC.
They are a group made up of more than 23,000 individual shares. John Terry is president of the group, while Neil Barnett, Steve Clarke, Marcel Desailly, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Pat Nevin, David Webb and Dennis Wise are vice presidents.
The CPO were involved in discussions with the parties interested in buying Chelsea, where they made it clear that football continues to be played at Stamford Bridge by a team called Chelsea FC. The redevelopment of the ground to create the best stadium in London for the best team in London, agreeing to a process that ensures the outstanding loan to the Club is resolved in a mutually beneficial way and underpinning the future of CPO as part of the Chelsea infrastructure .
It appears the Boehly consortium made a good impression during their conversations. While the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge may not be immediate, there is some indication it could be in the near future.
CPO chair Chris Isitt told Mirror Football: “The Boehly consortium has been very, very positive, and we’ve enjoyed good conversations with them. We’ve been particularly impressed by the passion and commitment shown by all the members of their team to get the project moving forward Obviously, in the early days of what they’ve got going on now, we appreciate they’ve got bigger fish to fry – the transfer window is [soon to be] open, there are some big things going on there – so it’ll be a while, I think, until we get any further detail on it, but we are anticipating a positive conversation with them about the way forward. “
“I do not have any reason to doubt the fact that there will be a significant redevelopment of the stadium in the near future. To put it in a nutshell, the best team in London deserves the best stadium in London.”
Even before becoming involved in the process of buying Chelsea, Boehly has been vocal about the direction he sees English football stadiums heading towards, perhaps offering some insight into what fans can expect in west London.
Boehly told Bloomberg in 2019: “The new stadiums that [English clubs] are building, they’re starting to take an American approach to stadiums and making them environments. They were very utilitarian, historically, but now they’re starting to think about themselves as ‘lifestyle’.
“If you look at what Americans are good at, it’s been building lifestyle within stadiums. Originally stadiums would be a place where you would go and then leave, just watch an event. Now they’re starting to think about how do we entertain you “earlier and how do we keep you longer. That obviously works on lots of levels – it drives the experience, it drives the economics, and it also takes away from the congestion of arrival and departure.”