No protest planned over Chelsea stadium plans

Opponents of Chelsea's bid to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge today denied planning a formal protest at Saturday's Barclays Premier League game at Everton.

Several supporters' groups have united to try to convince shareholders of Chelsea Pitch Owners - who have been in possession of the land beneath the stadium since the 1990s - to vote against the club's proposal.

The 'Say No CPO' campaign plan to distribute 10,000 leaflets before this weekend's Everton match, which is being broadcast by Sky Sports.

But they insisted this afternoon they had no intention of disrupting the game, claiming they were only seeking to raise awareness of their cause.

A spokesperson told Press Association Sport: "We've got 10,000 leaflets printed out and they'll be handed out at local pubs and around the ground, not on Stamford Bridge property.

"We're not trying to disrupt the game. There's no rally, there's no protest - we're just trying to get our point of view across to as many shareholders as possible.

"A lot of them haven't received the literature or documentation from CPO, so we just want them to be aware of the vote, our website and the argument we have for them to vote no."

Last week saw Chelsea write to CPO shareholders - most of whom are fans - with a proposal to buy back the Stamford Bridge freehold, which they sold to prevent property developers making the club homeless.

The move has been seen as a precursor to the construction of a new 60,000-seater stadium, with the Blues unable to relocate unless they can sell the land on which their current home sits.

Fans are divided on the issue of leaving Stamford Bridge, with many genuinely conflicted and some pressing for a no vote at an extraordinary general meeting of the CPO on October 27 simply to force the club to reveal more details about their plans.

Others want the existing CPO arrangement transferred to any new stadium but it is understood this is not an option.

The leaflet being distributed this weekend has 'Say No CPO' printed in large letters on one side, with a message on the other that can also be found on the group's website, www.saynocpo.org: "The NO vote needs your help to ensure that the ordinary fan maintains a voice.

"If we lose this battle, the club can relocate ANYWHERE without any consultation with supporters.

"If CPO shareholders vote NO they will maintain the right to be consulted in the future of the club - whether that be at Stamford Bridge or a new location.

"A NO vote is a vote for consultation on what is best for Chelsea FC in the long term.

"CPO was created to protect Chelsea Football Club.

"This is as relevant today as when it was founded."

Members the 'Say No CPO' campaign have offered to act as proxy for anyone who cannot make the EGM and would like to vote no.

But they fear their cause will be hampered by the fact that a third of the CPO's 12,000 shareholders may not have received any literature about the meeting.

The spokesperson added: "There are around 4,000 shareholders on the list who don't have an address next to their name.

"It's really important we get to them some way.

"If 4,000 people out of 15,000 can't vote, it's pretty damning."

Doubts over the accuracy of the list have also emerged, with one name on it being Tony Banks - thought to be the former Sports Minister and Chelsea supporter of the same name who died almost six years ago.

The club need 75% of those attending this month's meeting or voting by proxy to back their proposal.

They are adamant they are doing nothing untoward and have promised they will move within three miles of Stamford Bridge if they leave before 2020 - although they have yet to decide whether to move.

The club answered many of the fans' fears in a Q&A which appeared this week on www.chelseafc.com and chairman Bruce Buck has also met with concerned supporters, with more showdown talks expected tomorrow.

PA

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