Two years ago, Chelsea lost their bid to buy back the Stamford Bridge freehold after a dramatic EGM with Chelsea Pitch Owners shareholders.
The consensus amongst the fans was, and still is, that, despite the obvious historical sentiment it holds and the fact a club legend, whose contributions to the club meant Chelsea Football Club still exists today, is buried underneath the pitch, we will have to leave Stamford Bridge at some point to get a bigger ground which will increase the revenue that will allow us to continue to compete at elite level.
Assuming that the fans actually want us to remain as a competitive force in European football and we cannot find a suitable site with a 3-mile radius, the only logical option is to expand our search area? I am not saying this is ideal but I fully understand this argument. Possibly the board could have stated a limit of 5, 7 or 10 mile radius from the current site as obviously there are many people who fear we could relocate to Glasgow (wild example I know but it makes my point).
This is why the proposed move to Earls Court has been almost unanimously welcomed.
However, there are still sections of supporters who remain a little sceptical of the CPO’s influence, and by voting no the CPO are not acting in the best interest of Chelsea Football Club.
One such supporter, Josh Green, sent me this email:
- “Whilst I am very grateful for the actions of the CPO investors at the time, please correct me if I am wrong, but I understood that the creation of the CPO was initiated purely as a legal maneuver to prevent any aggressive actions by one or more predatory property companies to protect Stamford Bridge from development. I am well aware of the past situation regarding Mahler estates etc.”
To clarify, I do not believe that the CPOs were ever issued, or intended to be used, as either collateral, leverage or to have any power related to dictating the future commercial interests of Chelsea Football Club. It was purely an emergency measure designed at the time to create a legal quagmire for the vultures.
The scheme obviously worked, but I am now somewhat alarmed that some CPO holders have moved the goalposts to imply that, for their 100 pounds, they consider that the issuing of the CPO shares was intended to, or actually gives them the right to dictate the future of Chelsea FC. I agree that protecting the future location of Chelsea FC is very important and rightfully an emotional subject.
I also agree that Chelsea FC should not be moved out of the immediate vicinity; however from a business perspective Chelsea FC cannot realistically negotiate anything unless they have the full control, authority to do so and that means owning the rights to the pitch etc..
In respect of the responsibilities of the CPO Directors and that the CPO should maintain a collective influence over the club to ensure that the club remains in West/South-West London, surely the clubs commitment to move to a site within 3 miles of the current stadium up to 2020 and it’s overall stated objective to remain as close to it’s roots as possible thereafter confirms what the clubs major objective to any possible move is. The sticking point still remains as to what exactly happens post 2020.
There has to be some realism though from the CPO that if by 2020 the club has not found a new site and there is a need to move to protect the clubs future and all sites within a 3 mile radius have been exhausted there will be a need to extend the search zone and both sides should be agreeing an extension of perhaps 5 miles to the original 3 mile objective.
I understand that legally this move must be done in agreement with the CPO but I don’t think the CPO should act as a barrier to the clubs progression, ensuring that the club remains as close to their original roots as possible is understandable but the club needs some maneuverability. We need a sensible solution to this and the protectionist view of “this is our home”, “Earls Court is not convenient to me” or “we can’t move away from the pubs we know” won’t help find a solution.” -
My response to this email would have been short and simple – the CPO are a noble organisation and those accusing them of a lack of gratitude are showing a huge lack of gratitude themselves.
As Abramovich has never given an interview no-one knows why he bought the club but I would suggest it wasn’t as a gesture to the fans to stop their club going bust. He probably bought Chelsea as a businessman or for a toy, or perhaps a combination of the two.
Clearly he has become a huge fan and has enormous affection for the club but does he have the unconditional love that lifelong Chelsea fans who bought into CPO have?
It’s been well established that the CPO bought their shares purely to protect the future of the club and so to get on their backs when they continue to act with the same motive is incredibly naive and, dare I say it, ungrateful.
Although there is a risk of upsetting our incredibly wealthy owner, for whom we should be grateful for our recent success, the CPO voted no as the proposal from the club was vague and represented it’s own risks, in that post 2020 we could feasibly end up playing our home games outside of London.
The bottom line is that there is a better compromise to be reached and until the CPO have more assurances, why should they give up what they acquired through good will during Chelsea’s most worrying times? Imagine they gave up their bargaining power on blind faith and in 2 years Abramovich was gone due to an accident, illness, economic downturn? The club could be in the hands of people like Hicks and Gillette before we know it and totally out of the control of the fans. What we have is unique and shouldn’t be given up on blind faith and vague promises.
I was, and still am, concerned by how things unfolded the last time the club and the CPO sat down together, but I was more critical as to how this was handled by the club rather than the CPO. Clearly people are worried by Abramovich’s response to this but if it turns out to be negative then surely that vindicates the CPO and strengthens their position.
With regards to the “rich fans” – by this I mean the 20 individuals hired by Bruce Buck & co to purchase over 10% of the shares – having a say. They should not have the same rights, unless of course you think taking specific actions to pervert the democratic process is acceptable.
With regard to general polls supporting the move, wherever they appear, you have to recognize that these days they are influenced by large numbers of people who will not be affected personally one way or the other, whether we move to a new stadium or not, yet they appear all to eager to back an option which will have a negative impact on most match going fans. If you want to widen the franchise on the vote, make it for season ticket holders and members, and then I think it’s fair to say you will find the vast majority would not want have voted ‘Yes’ to the proposals laid out a couple of years ago.
As said many, many times before CPO are happy to move to a larger stadium as long as its in the right area. Its just that Roman is going to have to take the fans views on the matter a little more seriously than he has done so hitherto, and on that basis we should indeed all be able to work together to come to the right solution for the club and its supporters.
All parties want what is best for Chelsea Football Club in the long term, but the club HAS to maintain a connection with its roots, it’s community, it’s history. It has to serve in the best interests of it’s paying customers, not forgetting that the atmosphere generated by the fans in the ground, and the tradition of those clubs is a big part of what makes English football such an enjoyable television experience for a global audience.
Its also helps attract the worlds best players. So let’s not throw that all away and become a US style soulless franchise.
Written by Frankie
Follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankiee44
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