Chelsea joins with Geldof to launch radio station for fans

The rapid commercialisation of football showed no sign of abating yesterday when Chelsea announced it was teaming up with Bob Geldof's independent production company, Planet 24, to launch a radio station for fans of the London club.

Chelsea football club, which is owned by the publicly quoted Chelsea Village, is following in the footsteps of its big rivals, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers, which have pioneered club radio, a business that is already well-established in the US.

Radio Chelsea will be backed by advertising and will broadcast from 8am to midnight on home match days, using a restricted licence granted by the Radio Authority. Its coverage will revolve around the club's matches, offering a running commentary of the game along with pre-match build-up and post-match analysis.

Announcing the planned venture yesterday, Chelsea's special projects manager, Chris Manson, said: "We are very conscious of the fact this is a community devoted to Chelsea and we want to contribute to that sense of community."

Alex Connock, managing director of Planet 24 Radio, said: "Obviously this is a commercial deal. But it is also a great opportunity for us as an independent producer. It gives us the airtime we need to show what we can do."

Celebrities who support Chelsea, such as MPs David Mellor and Sebastian Coe, and racing driver Damon Hill, arelikely to pop up as guest presenters.

Planet 24, creator of Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, was part of a consortium which failed a few months back to win a licence to start up a radio station specially pitched at homosexuals in London.

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