WORDS WITH: JOHN TERRY ON PROPOSAL TO CHELSEA PITCH OWNERS
John Terry is the first current Chelsea player to discuss the club's proposal to purchase the freehold of the Stamford Bridge stadium site from Chelsea Pitch Owners - and it wouldn't be right for it to be anyone else.
No one in the squad has more special memories tied in with the ground, and it is unlikely anyone in the squad has a closer understanding of what the club means to both the supporters and to the owner Roman Abramovich.
The Chelsea and England captain is also much travelled around the football stadiums of the world and appreciates what it takes to achieve success within them. He knows the importance to a top team psychologically to have a top stadium to call home, and in addition to all that, he is the president of Chelsea Pitch Owners.
'For me obviously I have great memories of Stamford Bridge. I made my debut at Stamford Bridge and have spent my whole career at the one club,' Terry says, speaking exclusively to the official Chelsea website.
'But what excites me is the thought of my kids, who are Chelsea through and through, being able to grow up watching the team play in a big stadium.
'We're talking about the next generation of kids beyond that as well. It excites me because I know for sure that we can grow.
'We can grow if we're successful on the pitch and if we've got the capacity to expand and do what other clubs are doing.
'It's not hidden that other clubs throughout Europe have gone out and bought sites for big stadiums,' he points out, 'and we are not the only club with a rich owner. There are others, including QPR locally, who are going to look to expand in west London as well.
'We all have great memories of the Bridge but for us to go further, we might need to move, and we have to trust our owner. He has been amazing since he bought the club, along with our fans as well. No one is saying it is going to be an immediate change but we need to be looking because I am sure other clubs will be looking at the same potential sites.
'We have to remember that London is a hotspot, west London especially,' Terry continues, 'and big development companies can build substantial flats and penthouses here and if we're not putting our name in the hat for these sites, then without a doubt they'll be snapped up by developers. Especially with the Olympics as well, London is the place to be.'
As well as acknowledging the club's need to be able to secure a site quickly should the decision be made to build a new stadium, Terry highlights the fact that, with new financial regulations kicking in, some of our main competitors maybe adding one more world-class player to their dressing room every season with the extra revenue they generate compared with Stamford Bridge.
And there is also another benefit to having an enlarged stadium he considers, looking at it through a player's eyes.
'With teams like Stoke,' he says, 'it probably suits them to have a smaller ground and a smaller pitch, but the type of team we have become in the last 10 years with the type of players we have, for us to have a bigger pitch would be a big benefit.
'We have suffered from this at the Bridge in the last few years when clubs come and park the bus, as we often say. We find it a little difficult to break them down at times but with a bigger stadium and a bigger pitch, with the quality we have in the squad and the quality we are aiming to have in the future, that would certainly serve us well.
'Barcelona, Wembley, Arsenal's ground, Old Trafford, they are all grounds that impress me when I play at them and looking at Arsenal and Man United, they are getting a lot more income due to their capacity than us without an owner dipping into his own pocket, like Roman has done consistently year after year.'
The fact that Terry values highly Abramovich's ambition for the club is something he wishes to emphasise clearly.
'Looking back to the end of the season before Roman bought the club, there was speculation that if we didn't make the Champions League then the likes of myself and other prospects coming through would be sold for financial reasons. But we had Desailly, Zola and these kind of players and we were on the verge of becoming a very big club, and we almost lost that chance.
'Now we are a very big club which is why we have to put our trust in Roman. He is Chelsea through and through and he certainly wouldn't have put the money in and shown the attention to detail that he has done over the last eight years, only to suddenly now stop doing what he believes is best for the club.
'Anyone who has been to Cobham can realise the detail that went into the training ground with Roman making sure he got everything right, and not just on a first-team level, for the reserves and youth as well.
'The fans play a massive part in the club and I can understand people being a bit wary of this proposal but they've seen what the owner has done in a short space of time and we have to keep faith with him that he will do the right thing by the football club. He will do the right thing now and he will still be doing the right thing in 10 years' time.
'He realises that without the fans Chelsea is nothing. Players will come and go, managers will come and go over the next 50 to 100 years, but Chelsea fans will always be Chelsea fans. I am one of them, my kids are too, and I want to be part of that for the next 40 to 50 years.
'When Roman says that if we do move, he wants it to be within a three-mile radius, we have to trust him, and the people underneath him. Knowing the board as I do, I am sure they will answer questions fans have as honestly as they can.'
The club already addressed questions from supporters with a series of answers published earlier this week and Terry believes the club is being as transparent as possible about its decisions on future stadium development.
'I wouldn't be coming out, speaking publicly and backing the club if I didn't believe in it. I could quite easily say nothing and let the club do their thing but I've been here for so long and I've spoken to the owner on numerous occasions. He is Chelsea mad and wants us to be in with the Barcelonas, the Man Uniteds, and we know that doesn't happen overnight.
'We're not expecting it overnight. In the next five or 10 years he wants us to be in a position where we've got a great facility at Cobham and we also have the stadium to match our aspirations.
'All the fans who bought shares in Chelsea Pitch Owners have played a very important part in the history of the club. I am the president of CPO so I understand what it is about.
'If the club does end up moving then Stamford Bridge will never be forgotten, by myself or the fans. If the club does decide to move then there are some sites in west London that spring to mind that are not too far and I don't believe Roman ever wants to take us too far away from where the club started and where we've created our name.'