January 12 – After a wait of more than a year, Chelsea have been granted planning permission to rebuild their Stamford Bridge stadium replacing the current 41,600 capacity venue with a 60,000-all seater.
Premier League topping Chelsea have been operating with over 99% of their stadium capacity full on home match days for the past two seasons. The new capacity will open up multiple commercial opportunities for a modernised facility in the heart of wealthy west London.
It also keeps the club up to speed with London neighbours West Ham – who this season moved into the revamped 57,000 capacity London Stadium (the former 2012 London Olympic Stadium) – and Tottenham Hotspur who are md-way through a rebuild of their own White Hart Lane Stadium, increasing capacity to 61,000.
A brief club statement said: “Over the past 12 months we have consulted widely with neighbouring residents, local businesses, statutory authorities and continued to work closely with the council…The committee decision does not mean that work can begin on site. This is just the latest step, although a significant one, that we have to take before we can commence work, including obtaining various other permissions.”
The cost of the new Stamford Bridge is expected to be £500 million and includes a direct walkway from the nearby Fulham Broadway tube station. The stadium has been designed by architects Herzog and de Meuron, who also designed the iconic ‘Birds Nest’ Olympic stadium in Beijing.
It is unclear when work will actually begin on the stadium, but the build is expected to take three years. Chelsea could remain in occupation for part of this build, perhaps with a reduced capacity, but the club is looking at other options including playing at Wembley Stadium or the Twickenham rugby stadium.
The issue for moving to Wembley is that Spurs will have use for the 2017-18 season as White Hart completes its reconstruction – Spurs are understood to want exclusive club use.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had looked at various options for relocating to a new stadium, with sites at Earls Court and Battersea Power Station having been proposed and then rejected.
While the final plans are still to be approved by London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who rarely makes appearances in West London – it looks like Chelsea are at last on their way to getting a stadium that will help fulfill the demand for matchday tickets.