Chelsea FC Considers Move to Battersea Power Station

Club appoints developers and architect to draw up possible plan

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Battersea Power Station

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Chelsea Football Club has confirmed it is considering a move south of the river to Battersea Power Station.

The club has been exploring the possibility of moving from Stamford Bridge for some time, as it has acknowledged its crowd capacity of under 42,000 is too small for its needs.

There has been speculation that the most likely sites where it could build a new larger stadium are White City, Earls Court or Nine Elms in Battersea, all of which are earmarked for large scale regeneration.

Now though, the club has appointed Mike Hussey, chief executive of property development company Almacantar, as development partner to explore the viability of a move to Battersea.

The architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox has been hired to draw up plans for the potential construction of an arena that would house between 55,000 and 60,000 spectators.

It would be situated to the south east of the Grade II listed power station.

A Chelsea spokesman said: "In the past, we've talked to various people with interests in Battersea power station but we haven't had any substantive discussions with anyone regarding that site for several months.

"However, in light of current developments, we now think it prudent to look again at the feasibility and potential for the Battersea power station site to be developed for a football stadium.

"We have made no decision to leave Stamford Bridge and we continue to discuss with the local council any economically viable options to expand the Bridge, but we will continue to investigate various options close to Stamford Bridge."

If Chelsea did decide to move, it would have to persude Chelsea Pitch Owners, who own the freehold at Stamford Bridge, to sell it back. It has already failed in its first bid when, at a meeting held on October 27, a vote was held among Chelsea Pitch Owners shareholders over the purchase of the freehold. Approval of 75% of the shareholders was needed to pass the proposal, but in the event, only 61.6% voted yes.

CPO was set up in 1993 in order to protect the future of the ground where the club had played since 1905. It is made up of around 15,000 shareholders, most of whom  are fans who bought their shares at £100 each between 1993 and 1997.

After the vote, Chelsea FC chairman Bruce Buck said: " Obviously we are disappointed but we recognise and we respect totally that the shareholders of Chelsea Pitch Owners have spoken. We will meet with Mr Abramovich and the rest of the board and we will decide what action, if any, we will take going forward."

A week later, Hammersmith and Fulham Council stepped in, promising to do all it could to help Chelsea stay in its "historic home" in the borough, and to begin working with the club to explore options for redeveloping Stamford Bridge to increase the ground's capacity.

This week there was a further twist when a group of creditors of Battersea Power Station, including Lloyds Bank asked for its owners to be put into administration, saying they are owed £502 million.

Developer Real Estate Opportunities had planned to build 3,400 homes plus shops, restaurants,  hotel and offices on the landmark site at a cost of £5.5billion, but these plans are now in disarray. A court hearing over the power station's future will be held on December 12.

October 27, 2011