Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Blues could stay at Bridge - Gourlay

Ron Gourlay

Ron Gourlay has insisted Chelsea's bid to build a new stadium at Battersea Power Station did not mean they had given up on redeveloping Stamford Bridge.

The Blues last week announced ambitious plans to transform Wandsworth's Grade II* listed power station into a 60,000-capacity ground, confirming they had made an offer for the 39-acre site.

The chief executive has claimed no decision had been taken to relocate, revealing the Blues were still exploring whether their home of 107 years could be increased to a 55,000-seat stadium. He said: "What we've all got to do is keep our feet on the ground as far as Battersea is concerned."

Chelsea are unable to move anywhere until they convince fan-led group Chelsea Pitch Owners to return the freehold of Stamford Bridge to the club, something they failed to do in October.

Gourlay added: "When we met with the Chelsea Pitch Owners shareholders back in October, we indicated that we were doing everything in our power to stay at Stamford Bridge, to extend Stamford Bridge, and we've looked at potential opportunities of a new-build around the Stamford Bridge area.

"Not only does that cause us issues with economics, it also causes us major challenges around potential planning applications and all the rest.

"We do feel, as a club, that to stay among the elite, we've got to have a bigger stadium. And one of the things that we discussed with the shareholders was to look at opportunities within a three-mile perimeter of the current site at Stamford Bridge.

"One of them is Battersea. There's a long way to go, there are other bidders in there, and we just need to see where it goes from there. But if we didn't enter into that bidding process then we would have lost that as an opportunity if we need it one day down the line.

"We've got to be in a position to make the move quickly. But we've still not said no to Stamford Bridge and we're still looking at other alternatives and are working very hard behind the scenes to achieve that."

Gourlay refused to be drawn on whether he had met with a member of the Qatari ruling family, Khalid Al Thani, about securing additional investment for any development at Battersea.

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