Chelsea Pitch Owners Reject EPL Club's Attempt To Purchase Stamford Bridge Land
EPL club Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday “suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the club's fans after shareholders in the Chelsea Pitch Owners company rejected a proposal to buy back the land upon which Stamford Bridge is built at a fractious extraordinary general meeting,” according to Dominic Fifield of the GUARDIAN. Chelsea secured 61.6% of the shares “held by those present in the club's Great Hall or voting by proxy, falling well short of the 75% required if they were to force through proposals to secure the pitch and land upon which Stamford Bridge is built.” Securing 75% of the vote “would have represented the first step towards leaving Chelsea's home of 106 years for a new, 60,000-seat stadium.” Those opposed to the club's proposals “had expressed grave concerns at the prospect of surrendering the safety net provided by CPO -- a company which was formed in 1993 to prevent the stadium falling into the hands of property developers -- and expressed outrage that around [US$322,000] worth of shares, at [US$161] each, had been sold to only 20 individuals since the club's plans” were detailed on Oct. 3 (GUARDIAN, 10/28). The GUARDIAN's Fifield notes what “must have shaken the Chelsea hierarchy was the animosity to which they were subjected.” Tim Rolls, a spokesperson for Say No CPO (SNCPO), said, "The club simply do not understand the fans. That has been totally demonstrated by the emotions that surfaced.” Fifield writes lessons “need to be learned from this defeat.” There is “an acceptance among many, even in SNCPO, that this club may need to move from Stamford Bridge to compete with rivals who can get 60,000 fans through the turnstiles.” But the board “will need to engage more properly with the shareholders who successfully deflected the proposal to buy back the freehold to Chelsea's home of 106 years if they are ever to secure the land and, therefore, the option to move to an alternative site” (GUARDIAN, 10/28).