The increasingly bitter battle for the ownership of the freehold for Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium will reach its conclusion today with neither side able to say last night with any certainty that they have carried the day.
The club – led by chairman Bruce Buck – want to buy back the freehold from Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO), and have said that they need the freehold in order to be able to redevelop Stamford Bridge and move. The extra publicity around the vote today has meant that the club will now hold the meeting on a concourse in the West Stand.
There is still mystery surrounding the sale of more than £200,000 worth of shares in the last two weeks, more shares than have been sold in the last seven years and 10 per cent of the entire issue. The "Say No CPO" (SNCPO) campaign has claimed that those shares have been bought by "Yes" voters loyal to the club. The club maintain there is no evidence of that, and argue certain individuals in the "No" campaign have also increased their holding.
The "No" campaign require just 25 per cent of the vote to defeat the club's attempt to buy the freehold for around £1.5m to £2m. The SNCPO group, who have said that they would endorse a "Yes" vote in exchange for the freehold on any potential new stadium, believe they will muster around 3,000 in all. However, neither side has a clear idea of how many people will come to the vote today with only a fraction of voters contacted by campaigners on both sides.
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