Chelsea hit 3-year delay on stadium rebuild, Abramovich hunts down £500m infusion

By Paul Nicholson

November 11 – Chelsea’s development of Stamford Bridge into a new-build 60,000 capacity stadium has been pushed back by at least three years.

The club had been hoping to start play in their new stadium at the start of the 2020-21 season. Now the earliest they will be there is for the start of the 2024/25 season, according to Board members Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia who were addressing a fan forum.

This means that the team will not now move from Stamford Bridge until 2020. “There will be at least two further seasons here after this one,” said a member of the project team.

Chelsea are believed to hold an option on moving to Wembley while Stamford Bridge is redeveloped, but conversations were on-going with other venues including the London Stadium (West Ham’s new home) and Twickenham (the home of English Rigby Union).

The delay in development is attributed to “legal matters and statutory approvals to resolve before any works can commence and this may take some time but is not unique to this project.”

“We hope, subject to approvals, to start (work) in the third quarter of 2018 including the museum and health club being demolished, with work on the railway lines starting in 2019,” said the project team spokesperson.

The cost of the stadium is expected to be £500 million that is very likely to increase. Chelsea has played at Stamford Bridge since 1905. The new construction will increase the 41,600 capacity to 60,000 with the addition of 13,374 extra general admission tickets and a doubling of the number of hospitality seats to 9,200 (the key to unlocking significant new match day revenue).

Funding for the construction could come from China. While owner Roman Abramovich has pumped in over £1 billion into the club since he took over, the extra £500 million required for the build will not likely come directly from his own funds.

Reports are that East Asian private investors are prepared to provide finance for the stadium, secured against the club and the location, as a loan. Abramovich is understood to be retaining all equity in the club.

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