On Friday 24 February Chelsea FC invited CPO board members Steve Frankham, Rick Glanvill, Dennis Wise and Gray Smith to a meeting where extensive and detailed presentations were made by Ron Gourlay and Bruce Buck from the club, as well as architects and planning advisors working with them, regarding the potential expansion of Stamford Bridge. CPO board member Bob Sewell was away.
Areas covered included: present club finances and the challenges to revenue generation of the present stadium capacity; potential benefits to supporters' match day experience; planning, safety, heritage, environmental, political, disruption and access issues surrounding the expansion of Stamford Bridge; the increasing demands of live TV coverage.
We were shown designs and figures from many different plans exploring ways to expand all parts of the Bridge, along with explanations of the costs involved set against future income, and benefits to match goers.
These schemes ranged from finding 2,500 new seats in corners of the ground to the total demolition and rebuild of a 55-60,000-seater stadium on the same site.
The presentations were very open, with regular input, questions and points made by the CPO board. All were responded to with clarity and transparency by the club and the experts they had brought along.
From the presentations and discussions, which lasted several hours, it was clear that an immense amount of time and money has been allocated to exploring how to expand Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea FC's conclusion is that none of the schemes would achieve the goals of giving greater access and a better experience to supporters, and increasing matchday income.
Like many of our shareholders, we have hoped and felt that there might still be some way to expand the capacity of Stamford Bridge.
Having seen the detailed analysis, we all felt that a persuasive case was put that this might no longer be feasible or viable. Since so many of the planning issues concern the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, we are requesting further information and comments from them regarding Chelsea's presentation.
We hope that as far as possible Chelsea make the materials we have seen available for scrutiny by all shareholders and supporters so that the issue can be debated further.