Chelsea and fans split on sale of Bridge freehold

 

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The Independent Online

Chelsea have refused to negotiate with the supporters' groups who want a new set of assurances over a possible move away from Stamford Bridge – including giving fans ownership of the freehold at any potential new stadium. The counter-proposal was put to Chelsea by the "Say No CPO" (SNCPO) campaign, which opposes the sale of the freehold of the current stadium back to the club by its present owners, Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO), made up of around 12,000 fans who bought the £100-each shares.

CPO is due to vote on the sale of the Stamford Bridge freehold to Chelsea on 27 October, with the club saying that being permitted to reacquire ownership is crucial to any potential move in the future. In its three-point plan, released yesterday, SNCPO said it would agree to the sale of the freehold by CPO – which encompasses the four stands and pitch at Stamford Bridge – in return for being given the freehold at any new stadium. Chelsea have made clear that condition is unacceptable to them.

Last night CPO shareholders who own significant holdings were attended an invitation-only meeting with the Chelsea chairman, Bruce Buck, and captain, John Terry, at Stamford Bridge aimed at convincing shareholders to vote in favour of selling the freehold back to the club.

The SNCPO campaign has also promised to back any stadium move within three miles of the Bridge up to 2030 on the basis that the owner, Roman Abramovich, is still in charge of the club.

Abramovich has pumped around £800m into Chelsea since he bought the club in 2003 and while supporters are broadly grateful for the Russian's support – they have won three Premier League titles under him – they would like assurances about the plans of the multibillionaire.

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