Chelsea new home plans remain on the table



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Chelsea FC agree to buy land next to stadium Image: Coliseum GSVA

The Premier League club Chelsea F.C. have not made a final decision on their redevelopment plans for their residence – the Stamford Bridge in London, England (UK) – despite agreeing to a deal in principle to buy a piece of land next to their stadium.

‘The Guardian’ stated that winning the race to buy a 1.2-acre site belonging to Stoll, a provider of supported housing for veterans, will reduce the chances of Chelsea having to find a new home.

The Chelsea Football Club is an English professional football club based in Fulham, West London (UK). Founded in 1905, they play their home games at the Stamford Bridge. The club competes in the Premier League, the top division of English football. They won their first major honor, the League Championship, in 1955.

The Stamford Bridge is a football stadium in Fulham, adjacent to the borough of Chelsea in West London (UK). It is the home of the Premier League club Chelsea F.C. With a capacity of 40,34, it is the ninth largest venue of the 2023-2024 Premier League seasons and the 11th largest football stadium in England.

Stoll is the leading provider of supported housing for the veterans. Its work enables vulnerable and disabled veterans in need of support to live fulfilling, independent lives.

‘The Guardian’ further stated that building one of the biggest and best stadiums in the country has been a key concern for the owners, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, and the path forward has become a little clearer after Stoll’s Board of Trustees approved the sale of the majority of its Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions site, subject to further consultation with the residents.

The Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. is a private equity firm founded in 2006 that focuses on the technology, industrial and consumer sectors. The firm is headquartered in Santa Monica, California (US) with affiliates in Dallas (US), London (UK) and Dublin (Ireland). In 2022, the firm was a part of an investor consortium named BlueCo that purchased Chelsea F.C.

An old soldiers’ home named Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions based in Fulham Broadway London (UK) still continues to house disabled ex-servicemen and women. It also provides supported housing for veterans suffering from mental illness, and those who, having left the Forces, have found themselves homeless.

However sources close to the process have stressed that Chelsea buying the land will not automatically mean they build a new state-of-the-art ground at Stamford Bridge. All options remain on the table and the club have not ruled out a move.

It is understood that Chelsea view moving to Earl’s Court as an attractive proposition if they are unable to find a way to stay put. Any move would depend on the club receiving backing from the Chelsea Pitch Owners, who own the freehold of the Stamford Bridge Stadium and the name Chelsea F.C., and that would require significant negotiation.

Near upmarket Kensington in London, the Earl’s Court combines leafy Victorian residential squares, chain hotels, hostels, and busy commercial streets. Office workers and international travelers mingle in the fast-food joints and old-school pubs lining the Earls Court Road.

The Chelsea Pitch Owners plc is a nonprofit organization which is part of the Chelsea Football Club, tasked with the upkeep of the stadium. It owns both the freehold of the Stamford Bridge Stadium and the naming rights of the Chelsea Football Club.

The significance of buying the Stoll site is that it will give Chelsea flexibility as the hierarchy considers the best way forward. The Stamford Bridge’s capacity of 40,341 is at the smaller end in the Premier League but a rebuild is not straightforward. The current site offers little room for maneuver and the stadium sitting next to a tube line is a major complication.

Buying the land owned by Stoll is essential for Chelsea if they are to knock down the Stamford Bridge and go ahead with a major expansion. Doing so will give them more room for a rebuild, which is why they cannot afford for another developer to win the bidding process. Stoll received 13 bids and the consultation with residents will run for nine weeks, with a final decision due in Autumn. Under the proposed plans, Stoll will retain 20 flats on the Fulham site.

Chelsea will be left with three options as they consider how to increase their attendance and bring in more matchday revenue: A complete rebuild of the Stamford Bridge, a stand-by-stand redevelopment or a move to a new site. The project is being overseen by Jonathan Goldstein, a Board Member, and Janet Marie Smith, the Executive Vice-President of Planning and Development for the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Los Angeles Dodgers.

It is understood that a stand-by-stand rebuild is viewed as the least attractive option. It is felt the project would take too long and would be an unnecessary compromise. The sense is that Chelsea would gain little from going down that route and would not end up with a world-class stadium. They do not have the space to minimize disruption to supporters by building new stands behind the existing ones.

The favored option for supporters would be for Chelsea to demolish the Stamford Bridge, rebuild and stay in SW6. It is estimated that would take at least five years, meaning Chelsea would need to play in a temporary home. The Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur F.C. spent two years at the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium while constructing their new ground, which has a capacity of 62,850.

If the sale of the Stoll Mansions goes ahead, the charity will look to establish new properties for the veterans with support needs who would benefit from improved facilities and broader services and enhance its community outreach programs.

Stoll consulted residents over the site last year and have spent the past six months reviewing bids.

Stated Ray Lock, the Chair of the Trustees, “The Board assessed many factors, and concluded that the Chelsea F.C. ownership group offered the strongest bid in terms of how it would support Stoll and our residents during the process, its financial offer which would secure the future sustainability of the organization and its understanding of the charity and the importance of continuing to have a positive impact on veterans’ lives for generations to come.””

A spokesperson from the Earl’s Court Development Company said, “We have recently launched a draft masterplan for a transformative mixed-use scheme to bring the wonder back to the Earls Court, which will see 4,500 homes, 15,000 jobs, acres of public space, and cultural facilities in an ambitious zero carbon development. There is no football stadium in our masterplan.”

The Earls Court Development Company (ECDC) is an Earl’s Court-based business responsible for driving forward the regeneration of the circa 40 acre former Exhibition Centre site.

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