Wow! look at this, its on time lol. Rather than doing a preview/review on games and suchlike this week, I shall discuss football stadia. With two clubs at opposite ends of the country looking to move home, it seemed an interesting subject to talk about.
There are strong rumours that Chelsea FC are about to make a move from Stamford Bridge in the near future. Lets give you a quick run down on the events leading to this news. In 1997, Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) was created which was basically a group of shareholders including fans that bought the rights to the club’s name, the freehold, turnstiles and more importantly, the pitch. CPO then granted the club a 199 year lease on the ground securing its future and preventing any businessmen trying to buy the stadium and develop it.
In 2008 the news media reported that Chelsea were making a move from Stamford Bridge using funds from a redevelopment of Stamford Bridge into luxury apartments much like what happened with Arsenal at Highbury before their move to The Emirates, but all these reports were refuted by the club. Now just 3 years later, Chelsea FC has approached the CPO to buy back all the rights they hold for whatever reason, but it can only mean one thing, the club is moving in the near future.
I personally have no problem with this at all. Stamford Bridge cannot be expanded and with a capacity of just 41,841, the club needs to move to take full advantage of the potential increased crowds due to top flight European football and now being so successful in the Premier League. What I have a small problem with is the lack of transparency from the club over the reasons for the proposal to the CPO. I think if the chiefs were just upfront and honest, the shareholders of the CPO would probably vote yes to a move away from Stamford Bridge providing it wasn’t too far. and there are already two great sites on offer.
Firstly, we have the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre. A huge site that would suit a large stadium. Realistically I think Chelsea would be looking to build something in the region of 60,000 – 65,000 to have any sort of chance of filling it. Earl’s Court would do that, but its in a very residential area and may not be desired and I think it would get a lot of opposition. This would be a large project and the dismantlement alone would take years. On top of that you’ve got the congestion and traffic problems in the area that would be caused on match days. Its a site that been linked a lot of times, but I prefer the next option.
Battersea Power Station is an iconic building. Used on a Pink Floyd album cover, it has long been the speculation of many redevelopment possibilities and as I said earlier a rumour regarding Chelsea FC. I really like the sound of Chelsea moving to this location. Its a great building and I believe the famous chimneys towers would have to be kept which would fit a football stadium brilliantly I think if done correctly. The site is not in a built up residential area, its right on the waterfront for Roman’s yacht. Helpfully though, the building itself is rundown and half demolished anyway so work could begin much earlier and a new stadium would be completed in many fewer years that at Earl’s Court. Imagine what could be achieved here given the right design. I think it would be a stunning stadium and surroundings and fitting of a Champions League regular who hopefully have many more Premier League titles in them aswell. Time will tell what happens, but the CPO have a meeting at the end of this month to decide what is going to happen. Any refusal would of course make this blog completely irrelevant, but that’s life. If the CPO decide to sell back their shares, then its all go on a new stadium in my opinion which I welcome wholeheartedly.
Next on my list today is Aberdeen FC. With news this week regarding their ground Pittodrie now up for sale, it has triggered more talk of the new stadium out at Loirston Loch on the outskirts of Aberdeen. The site at Pittodrie has already been given planning permission for a huge residential development and things are now only going to move quicker on new plans for a new stadium. There is opposition to the new stadium, but I think that it’ll disappear quick enough. The same people are already continually trying to block the city bypass, they can’t fight on all fronts.
The new site is just outside Aberdeen on the opposite side from where Pittodrie stands at the moment, so this would be a clean start for Aberdeen FC which was such a force in Scottish football in the 80s. Times are tough right now for the club and a new stadium is just the sort of incentive to give fans something to be proud about and the designs do look very nice. The powers that be reckon that the stadium is going to cost around £40M to build which for a 22,000 capacity ground is pretty reasonable in these days of massively inflated prices.
I think it looks great and lets face it, Pittodrie is falling to bits and has been for quite a few years. Crowds are poor, as are the facilities and the atmosphere is non existent. Its time to move forward for Aberdeen FC and with funds coming from the sale of Pittodrie in the near future, the move to Loirston Loch would seem a hell of a lot closer than it did a couple of years ago. I wonder what they will call the actual ground. Answers on a postcard if you please.
So for both my supported club and my local club its big news about new grounds but for different reasons, one to maximise revenue created by more seats, and one to get a fresh start and a new future of possible success and pride. It will be interesting how both pan out, but I think its safe to say that we will have to wait at least 3 years for anything to be built. Ooo isn’t it exciting?