Chelsea in talks to raise pounds 30m

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The Independent Online
Ken Bates claimed yesterday to be well on the way to raising pounds 30m to continue the development of Stamford Bridge, the footballing home of Chelsea.

He said that Chelsea Village, the parent company of Chelsea football club, was in talks with several parties about raising funds to build a new west stand, a sports and leisure centre, a hotel and a railway station near the ground. Negotiations are also continuing with Railtrack over a Stamford Bridge station.

The fund-raising claims by Mr Bates, chairman of the club, come amid speculation that Chelsea's ambitious development plans were in doubt following the recent death of multi-millionaire and vice-chairman, Matthew Harding.

"Matthew's financial commitment to the club wasn't as big as some people imagined. In real financial terms, the Co-op bank has loaned us more than Matthew," he said.

The club declined to say yesterday whether the fund-raising discussions were with individuals or institutional investors.

However, Alan Shaw, Chelsea's group secretary, said: "The discussions have gone past the preliminary stages and one would hope they would be concluded relatively quickly."

Mr Shaw said it was "not yet clear" if any shares in Chelsea would change hands.

Mr Bates holds a significant stake. Mr Harding, who was killed in a helicopter crash last month, controlled 25 per cent.

Amid the uncertainty about Chelsea's fund-raising abilities, the club has also been hit by a boardroom bust-up that last week saw the resignation of Peter Middleton, a director.