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Premier League

Dennis Wise rejoins Chelsea Pitch Owners board


Dennis Wise has agreed to rejoin the board of Chelsea Pitch Owners, it was confirmed today.

Former Blues captain Wise was announced as one of two new directors of the supporter-led company which owns the freehold of Stamford Bridge.

The 44-year-old CPO vice-president accepted an invitation from the three existing board members to return to the role he held when the company was first formed in the mid-1990s.

CPO chairman Steve Frankham said in a statement: "Dennis is delighted to rejoin as a director.

"As a hugely popular former skipper of the Blues, he has a passion for Chelsea, and in particular for the fans, and sees this as an opportunity to reconnect with his football 'family'."

Wise's reappointment came less than a month after Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich failed to convince CPO shareholders to sell him the Stamford Bridge freehold at an extraordinary general meeting of the company.

Abramovich's offer had been seen as a precursor to a move to a new 60,000-seater stadium but his proposal received 61.6% of the vote when 75% was required.

Frankham, who succeeded Richard King as CPO chairman in the wake of the stormy EGM, also announced the company's annual general meeting would take place on January 20, a month later than planned.

He added: "Unfortunately, I am not available on the dates we had considered for the AGM in December and the directors think it is important that I am there to chair the meeting."

Chelsea would only require 50% support for any proposal to buy back the freehold at an AGM but Frankham was not expecting them to return with a revised offer - or indeed their previous one - before January's meeting.

Frankham said: "We do not anticipate firm proposals from the club being received in the next few weeks regarding the freehold, but CPO shareholders will be informed once any proposals have been received and reviewed."

Frankham also admitted CPO had exceeded its authority over the number of new shares issued in the company after Chelsea announced their proposal to buy the Stamford Bridge freehold.

There were angry claims at last month's EGM that most of those shares had been hoovered up by those who planned to vote yes and the meeting was almost adjourned as a result.

Frankham said: "Since the general meeting, we have become aware that 1,686 of those shares were issued beyond the authority granted by CPO shareholders at the 2010 CPO annual general meeting.

"This was an oversight, but we have been informed by our legal advisers that the issue of shares is still valid."

The 'Say No CPO' (SNCPO) campaign, who spearheaded opposition to Abramovich's plans, had asked the Takeover Panel to investigate the conduct of the CPO board but Frankham insisted today no probe had been instigated.

He and fellow directors Rick Glanvill and Bob Sewell will all stand for re-election at the AGM along with Wise and the other new board member, Gray Smith.

Smith, a corporate law partner in the London firm Mishcon de Reya, is understood to have voted 'no' at the EGM and provided legal advice to SNCPO after - but not before - the vote.

SNCPO last week snubbed an invitation for one of their number to join the board but Smith would appear to represent their interests.

Frankham also revealed today that the AGM would include a vote to expand the number of directors from its current maximum of five to seven.