Chelsea fans fighting the club's bid to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge have been given a shareholders' register by the club that is so out of date it lists fans who are dead – including the former Labour minister for sport, Tony Banks.
The "Say No CPO" group, which is campaigning for shareholders in Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) to reject an offer from the club to buy back the freehold, requested a shareholders' register ahead of the vote on 27 October. Instead of receiving the data in electronic form, they were given a 600-page document which included the name of Banks (above), who passed away in January 2006.
A lifelong Chelsea fan who was appointed chairman of CPO when it launched in 1993, Banks, the former MP for Newham North West, is believed to have owned shares Nos 115, 116 and 117 which were registered in that same year. The "Say No CPO" campaign is concerned that the register could include names of supporters who have passed away.
With "No" vote campaigners trying to contact as many shareholders in time for the vote this month, they are concerned that the quality of information is making it difficult for them to muster support to their cause. Chelsea believe it was the responsibility of the CPO directors, who are independent of the club, to keep the register up to date.
The register details the fact that the Chelsea chairman, Bruce Buck, purchased 100 shares at £100 each in April which will entitle him to the maximum 100 votes. Shares in CPO are still available and i purchased one yesterday for £100 and a £3 administrative fee.
The club want to buy the freehold back from CPO in order that they can move quickly should they decide that leaving Stamford Bridge, their home of 106 years, is necessary. Although the club maintain they are not in any current negotiations to move they argue that all the best alternative sites within a three-mile radius will have gone by 2020.
There is no way of the club selling Stamford Bridge without first owning the freehold to the four stands and pitch, currently held by CPO, and Chelsea would need to do so in order to finance a new stadium.
All the indications have been that a new stadium at Battersea Nine Elms, incorporating or alongside the famous disused power station, would be the club's first choice.