Chelsea Football Club have moved closer towards building a new stadium after announcing plans to buy back parts of Stamford Bridge from supporters.
Areas of the stadium are owned by Chelsea Pitch Owners - formed in 1993 - to prevent the ground being bought by property developers. Since then the club has been taken over by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich allaying fears of future financial crisis.
But it means the club is unable to move unless it regains ownership of the stadium's pitch and stands. Chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Ron Gourlay are asking the 12,000 shareholders, who are mostly fans, to sell their 15,000 shares to the club for the price they paid in return for various incentives at any new stadium.
Each share originally cost £100 and Chelsea are hopeful they would not be held to ransom, insisting there was no room for negotiation. Buck stated that shareholders were getting back far more than the land was worth when the 199-year lease on Stamford Bridge was taken into account.
Buck told BBC Sport: "Bear in mind that no-one bought these shares as a financial investment. Everyone bought these shares as a way of helping the club and they also bought them as mementoes and souvenirs. We think we're paying well over the odds."
The incentives for selling include a guarantee that Chelsea would only relocate within a three-mile radius of Stamford Bridge if the club did decide to move before 2020. A decision on the bid is expected at a Chelsea Pitch Owners' general meeting on 27 October.
Posted on 03/10/2011