Just over two decades ago, I watched as Chelsea languished in the Second Division, in a stadium that had cars parked behind the goals. The ramshackle stands seemed an appropriate tribute to a team that had their moments but were a world away from the swaggering Kings Road stars who lifted the 1970 FA Cup.
As the club grew out of all recognition, the stadium has been dragged with it. Only the East Stand remains from an era when Kerry Dixon plied his trade up front. Yet, as Chelsea's ambitions have soared, the club could only look enviously at the numbers going through the turnstiles to watch Manchester United. It has become clear the club have outgrown the stadium they have called home since 1905. For a team that is regularly in the last four of the Champions League, their average attendance is only the 28th highest in Europe.
The stadium is struggling to cope with the demands of modern football. Moving offers a chance to build a world-class ground that can host the best teams in Europe, with facilities that improve rather than detract from the games. It will also help improve an atmosphere that has inevitably become quieter with a new set of fans who moved in on the back of the team's success.
It will be a wrench to move; for me after 25 years, and for fans like Len, who sits next to me, whose first match was 1945. Emerging from the corridors of the East Stand Upper, that first glimpse of the pitch still sets my pulse racing. Yet along with many other Chelsea season ticket holders, I know football has changed, Chelsea have changed and it is time we had a home to reflect that.
Nick Clark is a Chelsea season-ticket holderReuse content