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Roman wants to buy out Chelsea Pitch Owners
Published : 03 Oct 2011 22:04:31
No new site for club identified, says Gourlay So what is behind Chelsea's announcement that they want to buy out Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) shares? The objective is for Roman Abramovich to own Chelsea football club, lock stock and barrel which will, if so desired allow him to sell Stamford Bridge, if he was so minded - to anyone he wants and shift the football club to Outer Mongolia or new brand territories - should he want to. Former chairman Ken Bates, not mentioned at all in this evening's statement on the club's website set up CPO In 1993 to prevent just this potential scenario. Then it was to halt potential nasty property developers, but it could just as easily be a multibillionaire-oligarch. CPO own the freehold of the ground and the name Chelsea Football Club. It has about 17,000 shareholders who paid a minimum of £100 for a share. The club, naturally has stated that Abramovich is committed to the club has only the club's best long-term interests at heart. The club has said it has explored all possibilities for expanding Stamford Bridge but effectively has ruled this out. Part of the deal, which on the surface does not give the CPO shareholders much beyond a priority to buy a season ticket in any new ground, is that the club would not relocate from Stamford Bridge before 2020 unless a site is found within a three-mile radius of it''s historical site. So that means from 2021, Abramovich, or whoever he has sold the club to, if he was so minded, could be shifted out of the area and relocated anywhere - just the scenario Bates was so careful to avoid. Say what you like about him, he knew this enforced move from outside our patch was possible if one man or company had full ownership of Chelsea' s grounds and name. So what are the possible locations that Chelsea could be looking at before 2020? Chelsea Mad believes that there are three options, one is Earls Court, the second is imperial Wharf and the third is over the river into the Nine Elms development. Chelsea has stated that they have not identified any particular site. That somewhat disingenious comment simply masks the fact that all three sites pose numerous obstacles. Earls Court, for instance looks like it will get all the planning permission it needs to become a new shopping and residential hub. The other two sites will cost a fortune. Chelsea naturally wants all the cards in their favour and see CPO as a major obstacle in maximising the cash potential when it comes to selling Stamford Bridge. Chelsea recognises what fans have being saying for years that other clubs are or will have greater capacities than them. Arsenal already have a 60,000 stadium, West Ham will have a 60,000 Olympic stadium to move into soon while Spurs will eventually get their act together and build a stadium that would dwarf Stamford Bridge as it now is. Chelsea-Mad also believes that Chelsea's current hierarchy are petrified that any potential sites might be taken not by property developers but by Fulham or QPR football clubs. Both clubs are rumoured to be investigating moving from their grounds to do what Chelsea want to do and maximise cash generated from increased capacity. CPO shareholders will no doubt be offered more sweeteners in the coming two weeks before the offer is formally put to them. I wonder what Dennis Wise, one of the original directors of CPO makes of all this. also John Terry, the current president of CPO. Those shareholders would be minded to be concerned about the haste in which Chelsea are attempting to push this through. But these very same boys and girls own shares in a non-for-profit organisation, that was never intended to offer dividends and thus was never about an investment. Owning a CPO share was all about preserving the club from predators and threatening the club's existence. What was true back in 1993 may still be true today. What do think about this development? Have your say in the message board now.