Chelsea have announced that they will ask the 12,000 shareholders of Chelsea Pitch Owners to sell back the freehold of the pitch and four stands to the club in order that – should the decision to build a new stadium be taken – they can sell the Stamford Bridge site.
There are six possible sites in west and north-west London with the three favourites Earls Court, White City and Battersea Nine Elms. But first Chelsea have to convince CPO shareholders to vote "Yes" to sell back the freehold at a meeting on 27 October. The CPO agreement was undertaken in 1993 to protect the club from developers and is close to the hearts of those supporters who each paid for a £100 share to safeguard Chelsea's future.
Here two die-hard Chelsea fans tell The Independent which way they will be voting later this month.
Chris Carver, 49, season ticket holder for 30 years, lives near Leatherhead, Surrey
The question of our future and the issue of a new stadium is something I find myself discussing with fellow fans on away trips all the time. We are worried about the implications of Uefa financial fair play but my biggest concern is ticket prices.
I am part of the fans' protest to boycott the Champions League home game against Genk on 19 October. The prices are getting higher and higher. For a category AA game (Manchester United, for example) the cheapest price for an adult (excluding the family stand) is £56 plus booking fee. It is driving away the long-standing fans and replacing them with day-trippers.
If we are to build a new stadium then it would have to be done with the fans in mind. If I was to vote "Yes" then I would want a guarantee that we would have a cheap, popular end that we haven't had since the old Shed. If we just moved and prices stayed the same then where is the incentive for CPO shareholders to vote for it?
I have other conditions, too. The only alternative sites I am interested in would be Imperial Wharf or Earls Court. Those would still feel like Chelsea. For a start, us old fogeys could still go to our regular pubs and Earls Court would mean the club being in the Kensington & Chelsea borough for the first time, which would be nice given our name. At Imperial Wharf, we could walk down the Fulham Road. I might be persuaded on Battersea.
As for going north to Old Oak Common or Wormwood Scrubs, well, that would kill it for me. I would go once out of curiosity but that would be it. Up there is QPR. It's bandit territory.
If we do not do something about the ground then we are storing up trouble for ourselves. I think Roman should have done something about it when he took over the club. I also think the club need to investigate the chance of expanding Stamford Bridge further. They missed a chance when we had a Labour mayor and Labour controlled Hammersmith & Fulham council who would have been more supportive.
I want the club to extend their guarantee that they will not go further than three miles if they move before 2020. Also I don't like the incentives, such as the "roll of honour", they are offering to shareholders to vote Yes. It feels like a bribe. As for getting priority on season tickets at the new stadium, I would hope that that privilege would be extended to all long-term season ticket holders.
I have one of the first shares in Chelsea Pitch Owners. It is No 477, bought in April 1993. If I am to sell it back to the club then I want a guarantee that if we are to leave our ancestral home the new stadium still feels like Chelsea Football Club. And also that the cost of watching our team is reduced, to make sure that it is affordable to the next generation of fans.
Matt Day, 30, season ticket holder for 15 years (but 'priced out' last summer), lives in Watford
I was presented with my Chelsea Pitch Owners certificate by Marcel Desailly, on the pitch at Stamford Bridge before the last game of the 2003-2004 season against Leeds United. It felt at the time that I was becoming part of the club. At the very least we were securing the future of Chelsea from anyone who wanted to sell it to the developers.
I will be voting No on 27 October because I do not think we need a new stadium. I am well aware that the club want to become a global brand but the bottom line is that we are struggling to sell out a 41,800-capacity stadium every week. Sure, it is full for the games against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool but they would draw a big crowd anywhere in the world. This is the most successful period in our history and yet we still do not sell out every week. The only way that they would fill a 65,000-capacity stadium is if we dropped ticket prices to £20-£25. I have had a season ticket since 1996 but I had to give it up this summer because it was just becoming too expensive.
The CPO was formed so that the real fans could look after the future of the club. Yet now it seems like the club are more interested in attracting anyone who can pay the prices that they set. They want those who are after entertainment rather than the real Chelsea fanatics.
I am worried that if we built a new stadium and had 35,000 fans rattling around in it every week we would become a laughing stock. At the moment we get battered at some away grounds for having "no history". One of the aspects of our history that I'm most proud of is that we have played in the same place since we were formed 106 years ago.
There are other things that worry me. The ashes of Peter Osgood (above), our greatest-ever player, are buried under the penalty spot at the Shed End. What happens to them? Do they just get dug up and moved on? There are lots of little things which concern the fans about moving to a new stadium. Stamford Bridge is an atmospheric, historical ground. I look at the new stadiums that have been built like the Emirates and St Mary's and they just do not feel the same.
A lot of the older generation are set against the move. It is probably the younger fans who came on board when Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli were at the club who want a new stadium. They are used to watching top players and probably think they will see more good players if we move. Us older ones can remember when we were not so good.
We have a billionaire owner who has done a lot for the club but they have to be careful that they do not make it look as if they do not need the normal fans any longer. It was us who bought the CPO shares to protect the club in the first place.Reuse content