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Volume 6 No. 212


Chelsea’s search for a new stadium has "suffered a blow" after the Hammersmith and Fulham Council in west London "explicitly ruled out a football ground from a major redevelopment" of Earls Court, according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. The site around the Earls Court exhibition center is "one of several the club has considered for potential ground development," but the council and developers working on a master plan for the area have "made it clear Chelsea are not welcome." The council signed an agreement to include two housing estates in a development of the area by EC Properties. As a condition of the deal the council and landowners "have agreed there will be no place for Chelsea or any other football club in the plan" (TELEGRAPH, 1/23). In London, David Kent reported Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich is "desparate to relocate" the club to Earls Court. The Russian billionaire will "have to reconsider his lofty plans" following a damning joint statement released Wednesday. The press release said, "Neither of the two landowners believes that the inclusion of a football stadium in the scheme would offer the regeneration benefits of the existing master plan." Hammersmith and Fulham Council Leader Nicholas Botterill added: "There really is no place for Chelsea Football Club within the Earls Court redevelopment. It remains the council's firm belief that the future of Chelsea FC is best served at their historic home of Stamford Bridge" (DAILY MAIL, 1/23).

ANOTHER OBSTACLE: ESPN noted this is "a second hammer blow to Chelsea's hopes of securing a move from Stamford Bridge," after a Malaysian firm beat them to the site of the old Battersea Power Station last year. The obstacles to any potential ground move "do not end with the search for a site to build a stadium." The club has "yet to resolve a dispute with the club supporters," who own part of the Stamford Bridge side as part of their Chelsea pitch owner's share scheme. A prolonged stay at Chelsea's historic 42,000-capacity home "seems inevitable in the immediate future" (ESPN, 1/23).

Thai Premier League club Buriram United President Newin Chidchob, who is also a former politician, "plans to construct a Formula One racetrack" worth about 2B baht ($67M) in his Thailand hometown of Buri Ram, according to the BANGKOK POST. Chidchob, also known as "Thunder castle," has contacted Tilke Engineers & Architects Founder Hermann Tilke, whose company has built dozens of racetracks worldwide and renovated several others, "to discuss the planned construction." The track is "expected to be completed by the end of next year" and will be built on a 500-rai plot near the club's i-Mobile stadium in the northeastern province. A club source said that the circuit "would initially host Formula 3 series events once completed and endorsed" by motorsports governing body FIA. More tracks will be built later "to support F1 racing." Chidchob also has plans "to build a racing academy and a motocross racetrack on the premises" (BANGKOK POST, 1/24).