In which Chelsea, eager to maximize future profits, might lend a hand in vaporizing a historic venue that has hosted everyone from Hunter Hearst Helmsley to McFly. Were they not planning on building a new stadium for Chelsea, “good riddance” would be an appropriate response.
Chelsea Football Club is believed to be considering a £400m bid for the Earls Court exhibition centre in order to relocate from their Stamford Bridge home. A move to a new site would help the champions compete more seriously in revenue terms with Arsenal, who moves to their new 60,000 Ashburton Grove home at the beginning of next season, and Manchester United, whose Old Trafford capacity will shortly be increased to 75,000.
According to sources close to the club, the Premiership leaders have been debating a move for several months after running into problems in attempting to extend the 42,500 capacity at the Bridge, which has been their home for 100 years. Increasing the capacity of Stamford Bridge to around 50,000 remains the club’s preferred option but logistical difficulties have stymied that plan.
There would be problems if Chelsea try to redevelop Earls Court because at present the site’s planning permission allows it to be used only as an exhibition centre and music venue. A plan to build a sports stadium would require a change of use clause agreed by both Hammersmith and Kensington & Chelsea councils.
Chelsea believe they have been linked with several moves in the past because property sellers have used their supposed interest to try to get a buying frenzy going. Last night the club said: “There has been speculation linking us with a whole variety of sites in London including Wembley, the Olympic Stadium at Stratford, White City, Battersea Power Station, Earls Court and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.”
A move to Earls Court – which is walking distance from Stamford Bridge – would be relatively popular with fans who would be furious if the club decided to move further afield.