Football: Chelsea future secured

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The Independent Online
CHELSEA'S future at Stamford Bridge was assured last night after the Royal Bank of Scotland bought the west London stadium. Chelsea now have a 20-year lease on the ground and an option to buy.

The move came as a relief to the Chelsea chairman, Ken Bates, who said: 'I am delighted and very appreciative of the totally supportive role taken by the Royal Bank of Scotland, who have been instrumental in keeping Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.'

He added: 'It's got to be the best Christmas present that anyone's ever had, and Chelsea fans everywhere have every reason to celebrate their good fortune.'

The bank refused to reveal the amount paid to the previous owners, Cabra Estates, but has told Bates that Chelsea do not have to pay any part of the purchase price for up to 20 years.

John Mayes, a spokesman for the bank, said it took over the ownership of the ground when Cabra Estates fell into financial difficulties. Shares in the property company were suspended on the Stock Exchange last month.

'We have been in negotiations with the receivers and Chelsea for some time to establish a system acceptable to ourselves and also to Chelsea,' he said. 'We are delighted that it enables the football club to stay at Stamford Bridge, but our attitude had to be that it was also a deal suitable to us from a business point of view.

'We will receive income on the property, while Chelsea have an agreement whereby they can purchase the ground and enable us to realise our asset.'

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, will fight on behalf of Gordon Durie today when the Tottenham striker appeals against a Football Association verdict that he feigned injury during his side's fixture with Coventry in August.

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