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Chelsea stadium project delayed


Chelsea are planning to stay at Stamford Bridge until the end of the 2019-20 season because of delays to the start of structural work at their new stadium.  They are confident of being able to return in three years and open their new 60,000 seater stadium in the summer of 2023.   However, there is a possibility, given the scale of the project, that building work could take four years rather than three.

It is a highly complex project, probably more so than the new stadium being constructed at White Hart Lane.  The club did consider following Tottenham Hotspur's example by beginning some building work while remaining in situ, but that has been dismissed as impractical and not cost effective.

Chelsea are seeking to double the footprint of the stadium and they will have to dig down to create space for a larger replacement.

Chelsea must work closely with Network Rail and Transport for London over plans to install decking over railway lines that serve the stadium.  The proximity of the redevelopment to Brompton Cemetery which has Grade 1 listed status is another complication.

Chelsea have yet to agree to purchase the freehold of Stamford Bridge from the Chelsea Pitch Owners or to extend the lease beyond the 112 years that remain.   Chelsea must also reach agreement with former chairman Ken Bates to buy his penthouse suite in the Chelsea Village hotel before demolition can begin.

Some have even questioned whether the project will go ahead given its cost and complexity, but it is essential to the club's future.  Nevertheless, doubts persist about the financial viabilty of their plans.  It will create only an additional 18,000 seats at a venue that is already running a lucrative corporate hospitality business.

The widely reported cost of £500m seems a conservative estimate given that Tottenham's bill has risen to £750m and it has been speculated that the eventual figure could be closer to £1 billion.

Chelsea have yet to provide any details about the funding, other than to insist that Roman Abramovich will pay for it.   Chelsea are also committed to keeping Stamford Bridge as part of the stadium's name which will lessen its attractiveness to naming rights partners and hence its commercial value.

Wembley is the club's preferred temporary home while the redevelopment takes place, but they have also spoken to West Ham United about a potential ground share at the London Stadium.