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Chelsea Pitch Owners act
Published : 20 Jan 2012 17:16:39
Chelsea fans dealt what could be another blow to the club's hopes of moving to a new stadium on Friday after another stormy meeting of Chelsea Pitch Owners.
Supporter-led company CPO, which owns the freehold of Stamford Bridge and in October revolted against Roman Abramovich's bid to buy it back, on Friday afternoon effectively blocked the Blues owner from being able to railroad through any relocation plans.
In what were scenes almost as dramatic as those at last year's extraordinary general meeting, the CPO board caved into angry calls to prevent more shares in the company being sold pending an investigation into whether associates of Abramovich and other club directors engaged in bulk buying prior to the EGM.
It has been claimed those alleged associates - some of whom were named in a report this week - backed Chelsea's proposal to reacquire the stadium freehold at the EGM, a vote the club needed to win to be able to move ground but ended up losing anyway.
Bulk buying is perfectly legal and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by anyone at Chelsea, but CPO sold 1,686 more shares than they were entitled to last year and it has been claimed many of them were bought by those with sympathies to the club.
Sales of shares were suspended shortly before the EGM and the CPO board proposed that they be reopened at Friday's AGM. Fearing the 1,000 shares available would be hoovered up by more alleged club sympathisers, shareholders queued up to demand no more were issued, and they got their way in the most unexpected fashion.
Having insisted he would use his hundreds of proxy votes to ensure the resolutions to reopen share sales were passed, CPO chairman Steve Frankham performed a dramatic u-turn when it came to the vote itself.
The man who succeeded Richard King after the EGM used his proxies to defeat the resolution that would have effectively given CPO permission to issue shares to non-shareholders. His climbdown prevented anyone joining CPO until a resolution was passed otherwise.
Frankham told Press Association Sport afterwards: "I did it because the room asked me to. Hopefully that shows that we are listening."
The CPO board also bowed to pressure to hold another EGM in the next few months, during which shareholders would be able to propose resolutions of their own.