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New Stadium, Or Sort Out The Problems First ?


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From The Times -Matt Dickinson

Whither Chelsea? The question can be taken as literal. The club are expected to decide in the coming months whether Stamford Bridge, their home for more than 100 years, can be their base for the next century.

Their decision may tell us a lot not just about Chelsea's future, but about football's projected development. At a time when the game is looking to explore new frontiers around the world, with the Chelsea hierarchy keen to pursue the viability of the "international round", how much faith do they have in an expanding market closer to home? If they need a new stadium, how large? Is their market share growing in South Korea or South Kensington?

They could try to expand the Bridge from 42,000 to 50,000 and many resources have been devoted to looking at how they might do so, including knocking the place down and starting from scratch. But as well as requiring Chelsea to borrow a home for a couple of seasons, it is thought to be hugely problematical for reasons of space and access and it would still leave them behind Manchester United and Arsenal, as well as Liverpool, who are pressing ahead with a 60,000 redevelopment.

Arsenal and United make about £500,000 more than Chelsea for every home match — or £15 million a year — and, if the West London club are to fulfil their joint aspirations of becoming one of the biggest sporting enterprises in the world as well as breaking even, it is hard to see how that is possible with any 50,000-seat reconfiguration of the Bridge.

There is also the albatross left by Ken Bates in the form of the hotels, restaurants and apartments at the Shed End that make reconstruction a logistical nightmare. The idea of having to buy out Bates's own penthouse, and the thought of what he would charge for moving, is probably a reason in itself to bring in the wrecking balls and the bulldozers.

Reluctantly, but necessarily, Chelsea may have to look at other, bigger sites around West London and there have been a few willing partners. The owners of Earls Court approached Chelsea some time ago. Last year, Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, and Bruce Buck, the chairman, were spotted looking at large sheets of drawings in Imperial Wharf. There are thought to be other sites close enough to the Fulham Road — Vauxhall or Battersea, for instance — which would allow Chelsea fans to feel that they had not been shifted Dodger-style from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in Major League Baseball.

To build a new ground would also allow Roman Abramovich to leave a tangible legacy of bricks, mortar and executive mini-bars; not that he behaves as though he needs a lasting monument to his own munificence. At the very least, it would allow the owner to install the directors' box of his dreams.

But is there a demand for 60,000 seats at Chelsea, even after the trophies of the past few seasons? They sell out their Barclays Premier League matches but some games only with the help of the marketing department. And the difficulty in packing out group-stage Champions League matches would suggest that, while marketing figures show a huge growth in global impact, they are still working to establish a substantial local constituency.

Yet they must make inroads if they truly are sincere about removing the dependency on Abramovich to keep writing the cheques; £74.8 million was the latest annual loss, despite a record turnover of £190.5 million.

They have at least recognised the need to make themselves affordable by freezing non-corporate tickets for a third consecutive season, but nothing will attract a new audience like attractive football, which remains a tantalising dream for Abramovich despite spending £578 million.

You might argue that a 25,000-capacity stadium will be more than enough if Avram Grant stays in charge beyond this season. Judging any manager on six months in charge is harsh, but the circumstances of his appointment — parachuted in by Abramovich despite a questionable CV — mean that scepticism was warranted.

It has been amply justified despite a record of only three defeats in 35 matches. The three were against Manchester United, Arsenal and in the Carling Cup final loss to Tottenham Hotspur; ie, his biggest games. Throw in the turgid home draw against Liverpool and a pattern is emerging.

Grant has been travelling to and from Tel Aviv in recent weeks for his advanced coaching qualifications, his Uefa Pro Licence, and his team selection at Wembley on Sunday, and his subsequent interventions — or lack of them when it came to addressing his players during the breaks — would have come back with a D- had he submitted it as homework.

Managers like to call a big squad "a nice problem to have" but Grant was so spoilt for choice with players back from injury and the African Cup of Nations that it appeared to confuse him.

All of which might be forgivable if Chelsea had started to play the expressive style of football craved by the owner, but they were neither the best nor most attractive team on view.

That makes them London's third-ranked side when it comes to aesthetics — which is something to consider if you are planning to spend £500 million on a big new stadium. Perhaps Chelsea can pack them in, but not until a manager with real vision (Frank Rijkaard?) is running the team.

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If we had to move to a temporary stadium for a season or two, so be it. I'd rather see Stamford Bridge modified than move altogether but that is going to be an absolute nightmare. Adding a third tier to the Matthew Harding Stand would take us near enough to 50,000, and with great difficulty, we could even develop the Shed End.

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Managers like to call a big squad "a nice problem to have" but Grant was so spoilt for choice with players back from injury and the African Cup of Nations that it appeared to confuse him.

i know the thread is not about this but i've just pissed myself laughing at this part of the article as above, it would suggest it's not gone unnoticed that he's a bit confufused bless him :rolleyes: :offtopic:

so there you are he's got some of the best players in the world, and the cunt can't make his mind up.

sorry to bring another grunt post just couldn't help myself, it is funny though :smiliecap1:

regards:JBD

Edited by josesbluediamonds
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What the fuck is the point of us moving to a new stadium? we have enough problems filling our current one as it is. Sure Man Ure, Rottenham the arse and the bin dippers will be sell outs in a 60,000, probably ditto with regards to the Happy Hammers too. But Derby? Sunderland?, Birmingham? etc, would be somewhat embarrassing.

Lets campaign to get Grant the fuck out of it then get the team sorted out. That should be the only priority at the moment.

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o

What the fuck is the point of us moving to a new stadium? we have enough problems filling our current one as it is. Sure Man Ure, Rottenham the arse and the bin dippers will be sell outs in a 60,000, probably ditto with regards to the Happy Hammers too. But Derby? Sunderland?, Birmingham? etc, would be somewhat embarrassing.

Lets campaign to get Grant the fuck out of it then get the team sorted out. That should be the only priority at the moment.

oh i can just see it now, somewhere round the M25 a 60,000 seater stadium 50,000 glory hunters, fuckwits in charge, and abramovich loving it......fuck it! keep me at the bridge for now.

regards:JBD

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