Belfast Telegraph

Council dispute Chelsea's claim

Chelsea's claim that it would be more expensive to redevelop Stamford Bridge than to move to a new stadium was on Friday challenged by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

The Blues last week published a summary of a presentation they made in which they provided the reasons why they felt increasing the capacity of their home of 107 years may be unviable. But the council, who in November vowed to do everything possible to help the club stay put and not move out of the borough, have suggested it would actually be "far more" expensive to relocate.

Deputy leader Nick Botterill said: "We cannot comment on the financial conclusions CFC has drawn but it is very likely that any move away from Fulham would cost far more than either the £600million the club claims it would cost to rebuild its current ground or the cost of upgrading and expanding the existing Stamford Bridge structures."

He added: "Stamford Bridge is Chelsea's historic home and the council believes it should be their future home.

"We want the Blues to stay at Stamford Bridge and - if it can be done sensibly without negatively affecting local people - increase the ground's capacity so they can retain their position as one of Europe's top clubs.

The council have a clear vested interest in Chelsea staying where they are.

"We are proud to be the only borough in the country with three Premier League clubs and we do not want our local businesses and residents to lose out on the economic and social benefits that this brings.

"CFC is a thriving business which contributes significant benefits to the area and we will continue to work closely with CFC to explore all possible avenues for keeping the club here at their original home."

Chelsea last week bowed to pressure to be more open about their stadium plans, having been accused by shareholders in CPO - the fan-led company which owns the land beneath Stamford Bridge - of not fully exploring the possibility of staying put before attempting to buy back the stadium freehold last October.

That failed bid was seen as a precursor to a move to a new 60,000-seater ground, something Chelsea are unable to do before convincing CPO to sell up.

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