The Chelsea Football Club has just lost their bid to re-purchase the land of their home stadium, Stamford Bridge, located in Southwest London, from Chelsea Pitch Owners. Chelsea Pitch Owners was a fan group set up in 1993 when the club was in financial difficulties and they “acquired the freehold of the pitch to protect Stamford Bridge, which has been Chelsea’s home for 106 years until then, from developers”.
The management team of Chelsea FC was hoping that through negotiations and a voting session, Chelsea Pitch Owners would sell their shares back to the club. However, at the crunch meeting in the Great Hall of Stamford Bridge today, only 61.6% of votes cast by the shareholders in Chelsea Pitch Owners were in favor of selling the freehold of the land on which the Stamford Bridge stadium sits. In order for the vote to have passed, there needed to be at least 75% vote for the proposal.
The result from today’s meeting would mean that Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who has been the owner of Chelsea FC since 2003, has to postpone his ambitious plans for the expansion of Stamford Bridge. He has his reasons though, since the stadium has a current capacity of only 42,000 seats which puts it at a financial disadvantage from rivals such as Manchester United (Old Trafford Stadium 76,000 seats) and Arsenal (Emirates Stadium 60,000).
Records show that within a five-year span (2003-2008) of Abramovich buying Chelsea FC, he has already spent approximately £600 million on the club. And if he wishes to expand the club now, by purchasing the land of the stadium out of his own pocket, he might have to pay another £600 million for the “prime real estate”.