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Home » Sport » Football

Chelsea to offer fans incentives

Chelsea are to offer members of the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) organisation sweeteners in the hope they will agree to sell the Stamford Bridge pitch and stands back to the club.

Former chairman Ken Bates sold ownership to the group in 1993 so that the club would never be able leave their home without the consent of the supporters. But now the club are eager to build a brand new 60,000-capacity stadium which will enable them to capitalise on commercial ventures, as Arsenal did when moving to Emirates Stadium.

The preferred new home would be in Battersea, close to the iconic Battersea Power Station. But Chelsea are also considering sites in White City - controversially close to rivals Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road ground - and also Earls Court when the Exhibition Centre is demolished.

Chelsea will make a vow to the CPO to only move to a ground within a three-mile radius of their current home off Fulham Broadway - on the proviso they move by 2020 as the sites they have identified would no longer be available after this time.

Shareholders who vote in favour of selling up at an extraordinary general meeting scheduled for October 27 are also promised their names would appear on a roll of honour or walk of honour at any new stadium, and that they would be given priority in selecting a season ticket at that stadium.

The shares, which cost £100 each for the 12,000 shareholders, would be bought back at the price the supporters paid for them, with the club believing that at the time they were not acquired for profit but to protect the future of the club.

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: "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 mementos and souvenirs.

"We haven't considered making them a big offer because we believe that they are fans of Chelsea Football Club and want to do what's best for Chelsea Football Club and we've offered them a couple of things relating to their role as a fan.''

But Buck argued that even though the deal on offer meant no return on shareholders' investment, they were getting back far more than the land was worth - £20,000 - when the 199-year lease on Stamford Bridge was taken into account.

Buck insisted the club had explored in great detail the possibility of redeveloping Stamford Bridge but that every idea put forward had proven impractical or too expensive.


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