Cabra talks on Stamford Bridge sale break down

NEGOTIATIONS between Cabra Estates, the property company, and Chelsea football club over the sale of the club's Stamford Bridge ground have broken down. But Cabra said yesterday it was negotiating with 'a financially reputable' third party and was hopeful that it could conclude a deal, writes Heather Connon.

Any sale, however, would be for considerably less than the pounds 22.85m due to be paid by Chelsea following a court ruling that forced it to stick to an agreement to buy the ground at its 1988 value. The group would not reveal the identity of the buyer, nor the price it expects to get, but said the shortfall was included in a pounds 12.9m property write-down in its accounts for the year to March.

That pushed the group into a pounds 22.1m loss before tax, which has wiped out its net asset value. Cabra warned that the results were not yet finalised and might have to be adjusted following the disposal of Stanford Bridge and Craven Cottage, the Fulham ground.

It has convened an extraordinary meeting of shareholders to discuss what action to take.

It is also in negotiations with its bankers about a restructuring of its debts and the provision of working capital facilities. Eoin Cotter, finance director, said the banks were being 'very supportive'.

The failure of the deal puts a question mark over Chelsea's future at Stamford Bridge although sources close to the group said there were no plans at the moment to evict the club.

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