Belfast Telegraph

Leaving Stamford Bridge for good is a must for Chelsea, says AVB

By Ian Herbert

Andre Villas-Boas yesterday suggested leaving Stamford Bridge would eventually be viewed as a good decision if Chelsea moved to a brand new 60,000-seater stadium.

Blues boss Villas-Boas backed the club's bid to repurchase the freehold of their current home, which has been seen as a precursor to the club relocating.

Opposition from supporters' groups to owner Roman Abramovich's plans to buy out the shareholders of Chelsea Pitch Owners — most of whom are fans — appeared to grow this week with the launch of the 'Say No CPO' campaign.

Regaining ownership of the land on which Stamford Bridge sits, which has belonged to CPO since the 1990s, would allow the club to use the profits from its sale to fund a new stadium were they to decide to move.

The prospect of relocation has divided supporters, although the leaders of 'Say No CPO' have insisted they are not against it in principle and plan to vote ‘no’ to the club's proposal at an extraordinary general meeting of CPO on October 27 simply to force them to provide more information.

Villas-Boas was confident yesterday that Abramovich and the board had the supporters' best interests at heart, saying: “The most important thing for us is to position ourselves regarding our future.

“The club has made a wise decision in that sense.”

Although Chelsea have not yet decided to quit Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas fully supported the prospect.

A lifelong Porto fan, the 33-year-old recalled when his former club moved into the new Estadio Dragao eight years ago.

He said: “When Porto left the old stadium to go into the new stadium nobody liked the name, nobody liked the site, nobody liked the stadium, and nobody liked the idea of moving.

“Because the historic presence of the old stadium on that site meant something enormous for the fans.

“But if you go back to Porto now, there is not one single person who remembers the old stadium.

“Everybody is in love with the new stadium. It's a beautiful stadium, it's a magnificent site and everybody is happy with the move that was done.

“Because it took us into the future, brought us more revenues in the end, and made us play in a magnificent stadium.

“That's my experience of the past.

“I'm not in a position to say how the fans will react, and how they are reacting.

“In the beginning, disappointment regarding the loss — or not — of an historic site can mean something.

“But eventually, if we move or not, things will be for the best for sure.”

The 'Say No CPO' group are set to distribute 10,000 leaflets before tomorrow's Barclays Premier League game against Everton urging CPO shareholders to vote no.

And despite insisting yesterday there were no plans for a formal protest, they may be powerless to prevent one.

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