Chelsea, recently, commissioned the study of the area from Fulham Broadway to Stamford Bridge, to assess the potential of upgrading the area along with examining the feasibility of expanding the stadium to a capacity of 60,000 spectators.
Stamford Bridge, with current capacity of 798, has seen a steady growth in the number of fans in the past decade, due to their unprecedented success since Roman Abramovich bought the club. With a view of offering more fans an opportunity to watch matches from the stadium and increasing the revenue of the club in order to meet the stringent rules of Financial Fair Play, Roman Abramovich appointed a team of experts last year, to examine the potential of expanding the stadium, and to study the effects it would have on the surrounding areas.
Last Monday, Chelsea invited local residents, stakeholders, season ticket holders and club members to view and give their on the early plans of expansion, thereby elevating the planning and assessment process to a consultation stage. This phase will see the team, discussing both the technical solutions and the rationale behind the expansion, and its benefits, to both the local residents and the fans.
However, initial studies have indicated that expanding the stadium to the said capacity will be a challenge, since the area of the Stamford Bridge is only 12 acres, while normally a 60,000 occupancy football stadium requires an area of around 20 acres. The extra area here is covered with railway lines and the Fulham Road, which is surrounded by buildings on both sides. Chelsea are thus looking to build stands over the railway lines, and looking at different ways of getting their extra 20,000 fans up and over these lines quickly and safely.
This construction, according to early reports, may take up to 3 years, which means Chelsea may have to move to a temporary site for their home matches for up to 3 seasons. Chelsea have contacted RFU over this issue, with a view to use Twickenham as their temporary home stadium, but it seems unlikely that the Rugby Union will provide the necessary clearance, since the rugby fans may not be open to the idea of their HQ being used for hosting football matches.
Another potential place Chelsea are looking into is the Wembley Stadium. Chelsea may use a loophole that allows any number of events to be held at the stadium with a restricted attendance. According to the terms of an agreement with Brent Council, an unlimited number of matches can be held at the Wembley Stadium, as long as the attendance is not more than 50,000. That would mean that the two upper tiers of the stadium would be shut off during the matches, and still the stadium would be offering a capacity of around 8000 more seats than Chelsea’s regular capacity.
A Brent Council spokesperson said,
“Wembley is limited to 37 ‘major’ events at its full capacity of 90,000 spectators each year, but minor events that have spectators in the bottom two tiers only and a capacity of up to 50,000 are not capped.”
Chelsea are an elite club, which requires a lot of revenue and financial profit in order to run properly along with a fair amount of success. And in this age of Financial Fair Play, it is imperative that Chelsea accrue more fans to the stadium, thereby increasing their ticket sales.
Thus, Chelsea should continue with the redevelopment plans and make Stamford Bridge into one of the biggest stadiums in the Premier League.
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Edited By: Harshal Ahire
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