Stamford Bridge special: Chelsea’s £1.5bn stadium decision

Todd Boehly – Chelsea step up negotiations at Stamford Bridge – and the options currently on the table

Chelsea are holding a new round of talks over their £1.5bn stadium project as owners Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital edge closer to a decision that will shape the club’s future.

Although much of the focus has been on how long the board can keep faith in the head coach Graham Potter after a terrible run of results, Chelsea have a tie a bigger problem comes to the fore.

Boehly and his co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali are adamant that Chelsea must have one of the best stadiums in England and Europe by the time the project is finished, with 2030 considered the earliest possible move-in date.

Telegraph Sport understands that demolishing Stamford Bridge and building a new stadium on the existing site currently appears as the most likely option, although a final decision is yet to be made.

Chelsea board member Jonathan Goldstein, who is in charge of the project with Janet Marie Smith, executive vice president of planning and development for the LA Dodgers, is in talks with the owners of Chelsea Field [CPO] and I am waiting to hear whether the £50 million bid to buy the plot next to Stamford Bridge has been successful.

The purchase of the 1.2 hectare plot, which belongs to the Stoll housing association, would be a major boost to any plans to build on the existing site, as it would provide Chelsea with more space for fan parks and offices, while leaving enough room for a new state-of-the-art stadium to accommodate at least 55,000.

But Chelsea fans will be warned that there is no solution without problems, whichever of the three proposals the owners choose to start work on: building a new stadium on the existing site; redevelopment of Stamford Bridge or relocation.

Boehly and Clearlake have assured the CPO that they will only seriously consider leaving with their support, meaning that demolishing Stamford Bridge and building a new stadium, as planned by previous owner Roman Abramovich, is currently the most realistic option.

CPO chairman Chris Isitt said: “The CPO is in positive discussions with the club about the redevelopment. We understand that this is a complicated project that needs to be carefully considered, but we share a common goal, which is to have the best stadium in London.”

Inside the decision that will shape Chelsea’s future – what to do with Stamford Bridge


Tear down and rebuild Stamford Bridge

This is currently the most likely scenario, and the previous owner was Roman Abramovich urban planning permit issued for. Building a new stadium on the existing site would also be the most popular option among most Chelsea Pitch fans and owners [CPO].

Although there is unlikely to be enough space to build one of the biggest stadiums in the country, starting from scratch would give Chelsea the chance to build one of the best with a new capacity of at least 55,000. Just demolishing Stamford Bridge and clearing the rubble would take around 12-18 months, meaning the whole project would take at least five years.

The big problem with this is that Chelsea have to play somewhere in that time period and it’s hard to find credible alternatives other than Wembley, which is a scary prospect for fans who are already aware of the disadvantages of traveling to the national stadium for a cup final. Ground-sharing with Fulham is another possibility, but Craven Cottage will have a capacity of just under 30,000 when the new stand is fully open.

Rebuild Stamford Bridge

This would rank as the second option for the CPO and the many fans going to the game but, in reality, is probably the least likely to happen. Chelsea simply do not have the space to replicate Liverpool’s approach of building new stands behind the existing stands to cause the minimum amount of disruption to fans during construction.

Instead, the London club would most likely have to close large parts of the stadium and play on a construction site while the stands are rebuilt one by one. The estimated time for this is thought to be even longer than demolishing the stadium and starting from scratch, and the cost would likely be higher. The biggest downside for Chelsea’s owners, however, will be that delivering a modern, state-of-the-art stadium at the end of a stand-by-stand rebuild would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. As painful as the process has been, what is non-negotiable for co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali is that Chelsea must end up with one of the best stadiums in the country and in Europe.

Get out of Stamford Bridge

This is a scenario that many fans and CPO members could not bear. In order for the owners to retain the Chelsea name and move the club to a new location, at least 75 percent of the CPO would then need to vote in favour. The owners have pledged not to try to move Chelsea without the support of the CPO and that would require a lot of negotiation, even if the vote could potentially be passed. The only viable site that would have any chance of getting the go-ahead from CPO members and fans would be nearby Earl’s Court.

The positive, of course, would be that the move would give Chelsea much more space to build one of the biggest and best stadiums in the world, while remaining at Stamford Bridge. But it is not even known whether or not Earl’s Court can be bought with Earl’s Court Development last week releasing a ‘draft masterplan’ to redevelop the site itself as a ‘destination for entertainment, innovation and excitement’, which would also include housing. The plans are a long way from becoming reality, but even if it could be bought, the estimated cost of the Earl’s Court site would be around £750m – making it the most expensive option.

It doesn’t do anything

This is essentially what Abramovich has done during his 19 years at the helm, but it is not feasible for the current owners if Chelsea are to remain a global brand and grow in size. Stamford Bridge’s capacity of just under 40,000 pales in comparison to the rest of the Premier League’s top six, and even to London rivals West Ham United. As a result, Chelsea’s match revenue is lower than that of the clubs they compete against, which also puts them at a disadvantage in terms of financial fair play.


Chelsea would ideally like to be playing in a new stadium around 2030, meaning big decisions have to be made in the coming weeks and months. The planning process could take more than a year, although Abramovich’s massive plan to redevelop Stamford Bridge was given the green light by Hammersmith and Fulham Council before being shelved and then abandoned altogether.

Meetings are taking place between Chelsea’s board and the CPO, while the club also need to find out whether their £50m bid to buy a 1.2 hectare plot of land next to their current stadium, owned by housing association Stoll, will be successful. Buying the Stoll site would significantly increase the amount of land Chelsea could build on if they were to rebuild or renovate their current stadium. It would most likely be used to open up the lot and build offices and immersive fan experiences, leaving more room for the stadium itself on the current lot.


Given that Tottenham Hotspur’s state-of-the-art stadium cost around £1 billion, then Chelsea must pay at least £1.5 billion for their own new stadium project. There is no other way to finance such a large expenditure other than debt, although owners Boehly-Clearlake Capital may also consider offering outside investment to help finance the new stadium.

Who is in charge

Chelsea’s owners tasked board member Jonathan Goldstein with the new stadium project. The London-based property developer is the chief executive of Cain International, the property company responsible for the development of Islington Square, The Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills and the Raffles Hotel in Boston. Janet Marie Smith, executive vice president of planning and development for the LA Dodgers, the baseball club that Boehly owns, is also taking on a leadership role. Among her many projects were the renovation of the 56,000-capacity Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Smith is credited with creating the Dodgers’ Centerfield Plaza at the front of the ballpark, which features nearly two acres of restaurants, shops, entertainment and children’s areas.

Will there be sponsors for the stadium?

The short answer is that it’s too early to tell, but it’s worth noting that Dodger Stadium, home of the LA Dodgers, is not sponsored. Interestingly, reports in America last year claimed the Dodgers were looking for a field partner or sponsors instead of trying to cash in on the naming rights to the stadium. Two examples cited were ‘Dodger Stadium presented by sponsor’ or ‘sponsor field at Dodger Stadium’. Boehly and Eghbali have already shown an ability to look outside the box during their short time at Chelsea.

FA Cup Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge - Hulton Archive/Getty Images

FA Cup Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge – Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What this means for CPOs

The owners of Chelsea Pitch recently celebrated their 30th anniversary and in 1997 they bought ownership of Stamford Bridge, the fence, the pitch and the name Chelsea FC, giving the club a 199-year lease of Stamford Bridge for an extremely low rent. The purpose of the CPO is to ensure that Stamford Bridge is never again sold to entrepreneurs after the club almost lost the stadium due to financial difficulties in the 1980s.

The CPO fought off an attempt to buy out the freehold by Abramovich in 2011 and the organisation, which is not for profit, has seen huge growth over recent years and now has around 14,000 shareholders from 44 different countries. At least 75 percent of the CPO would need to vote in favor of a move to a new stadium for Chelsea’s owners to move the club and keep the same name. Boehly and Clearlake Capital made a number of promises to CPO during the takeover, and the new board has already met with the organization several times.

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