Chelsea Could Move to Twickenham While Bridge is Redeveloped

Rugby Football Union confirms club has made initial enquiry

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  Chelsea Football Club has made an initial enquiry about playing at Twickenham while Stamford Bridge is redeveloped.

While Chelsea has not yet confirmed the news, the Rugby Football Union told BBC Sport that it has been in contact with the Premier League club. However the union said talks are at a very early stage.

Twickenham is the home of English rugby union and the 82,000-capacity stadium has never hosted a football match.

The RFU told the BBC: "We have had an enquiry from Chelsea FC but have not had any discussions of any substance."

A Chelsea spokesman said: "We're investigating different scenarios as part of the consultation process we started early last year, but have had no discussions of substance so far."

The move would probably be for just one season, but it could not take place until the 2016-17 season at the earliest as Twickenham is the main venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

This latest news follows Chelsea's announcement in the summer that it was looking at ways of expanding its current home at Stamford Bridge to increase the stadium's capacity from the current 41,000 to 60,000 supporters.

The club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, commissioned a study of the entire area inside and outside the ground at Chelsea Village on Fulham Road.

The cub asked local architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands for suggestions, which could include decking over the railway cuttings to the north and east which could allow the capacity of the stadium to be increased and could reduce congestion on Fulham Road during matchdays.

The club's statement said: " A study of the area from Fulham Broadway town centre to Stamford Bridge and beyond has been commissioned by Chelsea Football Club's owner Roman Abramovich.  

" This study will review the potential for improvements to publicly-owned areas along Fulham Road and the area around the football ground, including the possibility of decking over the railway lines to the east and north of the ground.

" This could create landscaped public walkways and cycleways, while also reducing pedestrian traffic on Fulham Road and nearby streets on matchdays.

" The study will also assess the feasibility of an expansion of the stadium within the existing historic site boundaries, potentially to enlarge its capacity, enhance its facilities and improve the movement of people and vehicles on match and non-matchdays.  

" As a first step, a consultation will take place with local stakeholders, including community and residents' groups, for opinions on the existing conditions in the area.  

" The consultation will not concern itself with any design or details of a redevelopment on the stadium site. Instead it will ask about the surrounding publicly-owned areas and in particular the civic infrastructure necessary to ensure a successful and feasible redevelopment.  

" We will keep our supporters informed as the study progresses."

The club had been looking at moving away from its historic home, with rumours of a move to Earls Court and a failed attempt to buy land at Battersea Power Station.

Chelsea Pitch Owners, the group of fans who own the freehold at Stamford Bridge,  welcomed the news and said on July 23: " Four of the five board members of Chelsea Pitch Owners have now attended sessions organised by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, the consultants appointed by Mr Abramovich to look into potential improvements to Fulham Road and the area around Stamford Bridge. These consultation sessions have been held with a wide range of stakeholders and local interest groups.

" The directors were united in being impressed by its comprehensiveness and with many of the ideas presented, which included an upgrading and decluttering of the Fulham Road, the covering of railway tracks to create alternative egresses from the stadium site in the event of a possible future capacity increase, and a green north-south cycle route past the stadium.

" We were also able to offer ideas and information which were appreciated by the consultants. The consultants made it clear that CPO is a key stakeholder in anything they put forward and they will maintain contact with us through to the autumn when they will return with more concrete proposals based on the feedback received from this initial consultation."

 

October 1, 2014