Monday, 17 December 2012
With a growing sense that CFC are becoming more aggressive in their efforts to acquire a suitable site for a new stadium, it is disappointing that a few fans should continue to chuck mud and mischief around. Shareholders will have their chance to vote the new directors on or off the board in January and that is as it should be. The fact that the individuals concerned are not the favourites of the phalanx that is SayNo is irrelevant. Are they dedicated to achieving the best for the club? Are they bright, balanced and sensible? These are the judgements we should make when voting.
We say this in the context of a growing feeling among fans that CPO is becoming a pointless, toxic obstruction to club progress. The hysteria and misinformation spread about by fans during the buy-back vote, gleefully picked up and encouraged by a media pack we know to be pungently opposed to everything CFC, has left a lasting legacy. People doing business with the club at the two favoured sites are worried it will happen again. Perhaps this is the intention of SayNo in which case they have done a good job. The rest of us - the vast majority - should ensure those people get a clear and unqualified message; do business with the club and we will support it.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Our understanding is that an offer is on the table that includes Chelsea paying for the expensive and somewhat bloody awkward repair and restoration work but that the funds won't be forthcoming until a deal over the land swap with Stamford Bridge is complete and nobody
appears to expect a resolution until the summer. It would seem the matter boils down to whether the development company can deliver before the Malaysian masters get nervous. Who will blink first?
Monday, 26 November 2012
Our interest is, however, mightily piqued by two particular issues that should they end up being true and/or successful would put the management departures and arrivals into the shade. The first we have alluded to in our previous blog; the issue of talks with the Malaysians who own Battersea Power Station.
It is certain, according to our various sources, that the club are engaged in trying to reach an agreement with Setia over the development of the power station itself, a toxic and expensive problem for the owners. Individuals within the owning organisation have conflicting opinions on whether CFC are the answer but the biggest doubt appears to be over the ability of CFC to offer Stamford Bridge as part of a contra arrangement. Our last blog addressed this very matter and knowing it to be true now only strengthens the view that something should be done to ensure we all make our feelings known. We were quite good at that on Sunday....
The other issue to interest us is the persistent rumour that Roman Abramovich is showing an interest in buying, lock stock and barrel, CapCo, owners of Earls Court. The implications of doing so are clear and it would not surprise us in the least if the rumour was true. Indeed, the stories in the press are well sourced (and logical) and we ourselves have heard similar suggestions from people linked to the political establishment in the areas. CapCo are having trouble at EC, with High Court hearings pending and almost universal condemnation of the master plan from residents, designers, the exhibition industry etc. Not to mention the issue of money. The sharp rise in CapCo shares suggests the market is keeping a wary eye on things too. RBKC gave approval to their part of the scheme recently and this was to be fully expected - there was never any doubt that they would. But the problems persist.
There remains, at both sites, the question of planning permission and political will but owning something gives the club a bit more leverage to say the least. And money talks - especially now.
If the club are indeed taking an aggressive and acquisitive approach to both sites, we would be very pleased. In fact, we think it highly likely that this is the case and one expects they have finally reached the conclusion that working with, and trying to gently negotiate, the political self interest and duplicity surrounding both sites has produced little. A decision to confront it head on with cash and determination is to be heartily welcomed by Chelsea fans.
Sunday, 18 November 2012
One curiosity though is Battersea. More specifically, since it was announced that the Setia bid had been successful, we have heard nothing from the club; no submission, no statements giving up on it - nothing. We do find that a bit curious and as ever lots of rumours are flying regarding what is going on there, what might be happening with the development, hints of viability issues for the Malaysians. More specifically that Almacantar were the only recognised developer in the
running with an end-user for the Power Station. If we were the Malaysians, we would ask why none of the big UK players wanted it? It all leads us to believe that the club have certainly not given up the ghost; the circumstances have changed now that the Malaysians own the
site. Those chimneys, no doubt English Heritage and the costs of conversion et al are causing issues for the developers but could Chelsea be digging around, offering to remove the major "risk"? We think it highly likely but it got us thinking about the new status quo that exists.
It is our firm belief that the "no" vote caused a critical blip in our plans to hijack the Earl's Court development. Big players in the property market play all the angles, especially when they own the rights to a lucrative plot - CapCo most certainly did that and it was up to CFC to deliver. Crucially, what one imagines they will have to deliver is Stamford Bridge so that a developer has something to make up for allowing the club to occupy a swathe of valuable potential residential property space. Can CFC provide that as part of any deal? Is the first "no" vote giving Setia, or CapCo for that matter, pause for thought? It seems unlikely to us that SAYNO would muster enough support to stymie a stadium at either Earl's Court or Battersea. And we have heard even the most ardent SAYNO supporters say that they would be happy to see the club move to either site.
With locations limited, the club find itself in a very awkward position. It is one thing CFC wanting to play its cards close to its chest but one imagines that Setia and/or CapCo, searching as they are for capital and political support, feel the same way about revealing anything radical. The
one uncertainty remains the reaction of this small band of Chelsea supporters. The fact is that Chelsea fans are generally inactive when it comes to forcing positive change but are adept at working themselves and others into a lather about perceived wrongdoing. Conspiracy theories have dogged this entire issue. The almost total acceptance of LBHF's position is evidence of that.
The conundrum is impossibly tricky. For the club to ask CPO shareholders for their shares, one expects they will now, after the first fiasco, explain the plan. That plan may depend on swift manoeuvres and secrecy up to a point. But any potential CFC partner will want to know
that the club can deliver the land at Stamford Bridge in return for a plot at either EC or BPS. But how can it do that until a vote is taken?
The only solution we can think of is for Chelsea Pitch Owners to make it abundantly clear what they WOULD accept by way of location and perhaps then the club can enter into negotiations with confidence should such negotiations be on offer.
Could a resolution committing to sell for a site within, say, 2.5 miles of SB be a way forward? It would probably be unwise to mention the specific sites or tie it down to the two main ones; who knows what might emerge? And we have to bear in mind the delicacies. But we do know that certain areas, previously discussed, would be unacceptable so the mile marker is crucial. Could the various fan groups make it abundantly clear what their position on the two sites are? We, for example, are more than happy to say that we would sell our own shares for Battersea or Earls Court.
Whatever is done, we have an awful fear that the unpredictability of CPO shareholders and the recent bad blood is shackling the club somewhat. How often might the club be asked "can you get the shares?" Maybe the destiny of the club is more in our hands than we think? Maybe we have to give a strong positive message to the club and others about what we will do and thus strengthen their hand as they try to achieve what we all aspire to?
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
We at CFCTruth have to admire the doggedness of the residents of the West Ken and Gibbs Green Estates whose homes are critical to the CapCo/LBHF Earls Court master plan. Recent successes include winning the right to a High Court hearing which has delayed the development's commencement until next year. Now they have got the council to buckle on the claims over alleged dodgy dealings with respect to "bribes" and promised homes in return for support. Having fervently denied any such activity, the council have appointed Deloittes to investigate the matter. You can read more on the link;
We also noted in a residents newsletter that there are further legal challenges on the way. We quote;
"Judgement that our case shall be heard in the High Court has caused Kensington & Chelsea Council to delay their consideration of the scheme. In turn, the Mayor's decision is delayed. If we win the hearing next year, the whole scheme could be declared unlawful.We're not relying on just one High Court action to wreck this scheme.We're working with several legal firms to prepare more legal challenges, which are far greater in scale and involve vast expense. Our Solicitors and Barristers have advised us that our High Court actions will prove deadly. "
Of course, if this scheme as it stands is wrecked, this in no way means that CFC are guaranteed a crack at it. But we would be very surprised if CapCo were not, as we speak, working up their options should the residents be triumphant. They might even have already been on the phone to the club....
Thursday, 11 October 2012
Monday, 10 September 2012
- allows the planning authority’s decision to stand.
- directs that the application should be refused, or
- will take over the application himself.
Saturday, 8 September 2012
LBHF Planning Applications Committee
Councillor Alex Chalk (Chairman) email@example.com
Councillor Matt Thorley firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Colin Aherne email@example.com
Councillor Michael Cartwright firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Georgie Cooney email@example.com
Councillor Oliver Craig firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Rachel Ford email@example.com
Councillor Peter Graham firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Wesley Harcourt email@example.com
Councillor Alex Karmel firstname.lastname@example.org
Some people have asked for email addresses to which they can send their thoughts about the Earl's Court development.
Mayor of London
We await contact from Cllr Adam or anybody else in response to our invitation. We will keep you informed.
As is our habit, we have been digging around for further information on the Earl's Court project. And we think we have come up with something that ought to have a fuse and and explosives warning attached.
Friday, 7 September 2012
Submit that the current application fails to take advantage of the potential for a
new strategic leisure, cultural and visitor attraction such as a new stadium
development, with associated conference and exhibition spaces.
• Also consider the application to be premature until the "OAPF has been fully
• CFC have been "exploring options to relocate elsewhere in the Borough. These
options are limited but it appears that the ECWK OA could accommodate the
• Support the efforts of the authorities and landowners to comprehensively
regenerate ECWKOA, but consider that the current applications does not fully
recognise the opportunity the site presents to provide "a strategic leisure, cultural
and visitor attraction" as identified in the London Plan.
• State that the overall level of leisure, education, health, community and cultural
uses in the proposed development "account for only approximately 3% of the
overall floorspace applied for".
• Submit that the "creation of a new stadium, as well as additional conference and
exhibition space at ECWKOA could facilitate regeneration and create a high
quality flagship development, providing a gateway for London and meeting the
objectives of the London Plan to provide "a strategic leisure, cultural and visitor
attraction within the Opportunity Area."
• Want to ensure that the opportunity is taken to "explore fully how a new state of
the art football stadium can be integrated into this major development
opportunity", and consider that "such a component in the opportunity area would
make a significant difference in terms of the deliverability and quality of the
infrastructure needed to make the area a success in the shortest possible time".
• The letter goes on to list a number of specific benefits that CFC believe the
incorporation of a stadium would offer (these not repeated in this report as there
is no stadium proposed in the planning application currently before the
Capco set for Earls Court all clear as Chelsea FC lobbies for stadium
By Paul Norman - Thursday, September 06, 2012 15:35
Capital & Counties is poised to gain outline approval for its redevelopment of Earls Court in west London but Chelsea Football Club continues to lobby vigorously for a major new stadium to be included within the 10.04m sq ft scheme.
Capco lodged two other outline applications in June of last year for a Sir Terry Farrell-designed 11.4m sq ft scheme that in total proposed demolishing the Earls Court One and Two exhibition centres and building up to 7,500 homes and 2m sq ft of offices, retail and leisure including two hotels.
It also lodged detailed plans for the 7.5-acre Seagrave Road site proposing 808 residential units. These detailed plans were approved in February of this year.
Following widespread consultation, Capco has subsequently revised the overall plans, reducing it from 942,861 sqm to 932,831 sq m (10.04m sq ft). The proposed total number of residential units has been increased from 5,759 to 5,845 while business space has reduced by 20,064 sq m to 84,701 sq m.
Planning officers have recommended that at a 12 September committee meeting next week, subject to there being no contrary direction from the Mayor for London, that Hammersmith & Fulham council authorises the Executive Director of Transport and Technical Services to grant permission upon the completion of a satisfactory legal and section 106 agreement and subject to a series of conditions.
Officers write glowingly of the scheme saying it would "contribute to the regeneration of the area, improve education and employment opportunities, and promote sustainable economic growth".
The proposed development would be a "high quality development which would make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Earls Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area".
European football champions Chelsea FC however remain among a number of objectors seeking significant changes to the proposals.
Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, has been linked on several occasions to the site alongside other nearby major development sites including the BBCs White City site and Battersea Power Station, which it was an unsuccessful bidder for earlier this year.
However, the club, advised by CBRE, is understood to favour a site at the north of the Earls Court project as it is closest to its current home and is well served by transport.
The club initially objected to the plans claiming a decision should be deferred until a Supplementary Planning Document for the area is adopted taking into account its preference for the overall development to include a new stadium with conference and exhibition spaces.
In March Hammersmith however adopted the Supplementary Planning Document covering the Earls Court & West Kensington Opportunity Area and supporting the planning policy basis for the consideration of Capcos application.
Chelsea has now written to again oppose the application because it "fails to take advantage of the potential for a new strategic leisure, cultural and visitor attraction such as a new stadium development, with associated conference and exhibition spaces".
It now considers that the application is premature before the "Opportunity Area Planning Framework has been fully adopted".
Hammersmith writes that CFC has been "exploring options to relocate elsewhere in the Borough. These options are limited but it appears that the [Earls Court opportunity area] could accommodate the clubs requirements."
The club, which is currently at the top of the Premier League table, does however "support the efforts of the authorities and landowners to comprehensively regenerate ECWKOA, but consider that the current application does not fully recognise the opportunity the site presents to provide a strategic leisure, cultural and visitor attraction as identified in the London Plan".
It also adds that the overall level of leisure, education, health, community and cultural uses in the proposed development "account for only approximately 3% of the overall floorspace applied for".
Chelsea FC says the "creation of a new stadium, as well as additional conference and exhibition space at ECWKOA could facilitate regeneration and create a high quality flagship development, providing a gateway for London and meeting the objectives of the London Plan to provide "a strategic leisure, cultural and visitor attraction within the Opportunity Area."
Chelsea calls on the council to ensure that the opportunity is taken to "explore fully how a new state of the art football stadium can be integrated into this major development opportunity", and consider that "such a component in the opportunity area would make a significant difference in terms of the deliverability and quality of the infrastructure needed to make the area a success in the shortest possible time".
So what does this all mean?
There are a number of interpretations that can be extracted. The context, we believe is that CapCo have been keen to incorporate a stadium in order to bring capital and a real shot in the arm to the project. You all know by now that this was the reason behind the share buy back last October. CapCo are rumoured to be less than swimming in cash. The most optimistic of the possible outcomes is one where the club know they have sufficient support from the Mayor and will challenge the development at each stage, eventually persuading him to call the development in. The most pessimistic is that Chelsea, despite their persistence, are flogging a dead horse. A project of this size rarely follows a simple path and within a year everything can change, especially with the toxic issue of the two estates becoming ever more prominent.
We have heard that there are in existence images of a stadium design at Earls Court and we would very much like to see the club publish those.
We would also strongly propose that all Chelsea fans direct their efforts to applying pressure on the council to loosen their position on Earl's Court rather than taking their unsubstantiated claims of SB expansion and trying to beat the club with them. We have said it before; if they are apparently happy to countenance a 55-60k stadium at SB (which simply isn't feasible) then they ought to be comfortable with the club moving a few hundred yards along the railway track and so cfcretaining the financial benefits to the area they profess to be so keen to maintain. We should be asking WHY they are so resistant to Chelsea's obvious desire to bring cash and benefits to the project. When you think about it, it doesn't make any sense at all really does it?
Monday, 3 September 2012
At 7pm on the 3rd and 12th of September 2012, Hammersmith & Fulham Council intends to agree the sale and demolition of our homes against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of residents.
The Cabinet meeting on 3 September is for the Council to decide as landlord whether to sell the West Kensington & Gibbs Green estates to developer CapCo for demolition as part of the £8 Billion scheme to demolish Earl’s Court. The Planning Applications Committee on 12 September is for the Council to decide as planning authority whether to approve the whole scheme – demolition of the Exhibition Centres, the Lillie Bridge rail depot and West Kensington & Gibbs Green.
Once it has made its decisions, the Council intends, in March 2013, to apply to the Government for consent to sell off our estates, and our MP, Andy Slaughter, shall insist that the Government reviews any planning permission. We shall lobby the Government to refuse consent for the sale of our homes and to throw out planning permission to demolish our community. We expect the Government to help us implement the Big Society.
Three times since 2009, we have proved methodically that we are overwhelmingly against demolition and in favour of community control. But the local state rode roughshod over our needs and wishes to impose the very type of speculative property development that ruined the national economy. According to the former Leader Stephen Greenhalgh, who’s now in charge of the Metropolitan Police, the Council’s motivation is to obtain party electoral advantage by driving poor people out of politically marginal areas.
We championed the Prime Minister’s goal for a more responsible local society, where communities take control of their assets and greater charge of their neighbours’ welfare. We pioneered cross-party localist policy for council estate communities to own their homes, mobilising residents to determine their future so they can contribute socially and economically to national recovery. We stood up for the economic powerhouse of Earl’s Court, a goose that lays golden eggs for this country’s culture and prosperity.
What will the Government do next year when the Council applies for consent to dispose of our homes? Will the Prime Minister champion his Big Society by refusing the sale and demolition of the People’s Estates? Will he empower us to take charge, or will he impose the politicians and property and financial speculators on us? We don’t want to see him in the driving seat of the bulldozer that destroys our community and removes the last shred of credibility from his most heartfelt belief!
Sally Taylor and Diana Belshaw, Chairs of the two residents associations, said:
We remain true to the principles of the Big Society, and we stand firm by our belief that local people should take greater charge of where they live so they can exercise more responsibility for their environment and assume better care of their neighbours. We occupy the ground; these are our homes; and we shall restore ownership to the local community. Politicians and profiteers may come and go, but we the people shall never surrender.
Friday, 3 August 2012
There is no question that there are some who wish to see the CPO ungovernable by all but those determined to thwart the club's development at any cost. We would urge Frankham to stand absolutely firm against such intimidation, abuse and harassment. Even Wise, one of the most cussed and unquenchably determined of modern footballers has clearly decided that he cannot submit himself to the bullies any longer. Does he need it? Obviously not. The report in the Standard that "opponents of the Chelsea bid" had been intruding into his private life is an outrageous development. We have a very strong suspicion of who this is and if necessary, action should be taken against them. But Frankham cannot and must not acquiesce, must not allow them to taint and sully his reputation and he should resist any urge to appease them; as with all bullies, any weakness is fed upon. We hope the chairman and his remaining directors are determined to ensure that the ordinary fan is engaged with the process, uses the votes they have or is encouraged to acquire the right to have one.
Most of all, the board must continue to marginalise those dwindling few who shout and scream and wail from their sparsely populated corner of the room. Don't give them the oxygen of attention. They have their votes so let them use them and be counted, giving them no more than the value their shares carry. Beyond that they are merely the disruptive child in the classroom doing their best to spoil it for everybody else.
The replacement for Dennis Wise must be chosen carefully. He or she must not be affiliated to any known group. He or she should also be very thick skinned.
Monday, 30 July 2012
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
And on that point, we do not, ever, leave comments on other websites. Others claiming to be us may do so in order to try to discredit us. Our advice to website owners and bloggers is to consider them false and delete them. We will make our views known via this blog and twitter.
CFCTruth has been disturbed to read some outrageously ill-informed and speculative articles by indignant shareholders as to the nature of the vote on resolution 3. Firstly, some of the language is the sort of hysterical rantings of the conspiracy theorist who refuses to look at the facts. The first fact they ignore is that the resolution was not "narrowly" defeated.
It was demolished.
It needed a 75 per cent vote to pass and got nowhere near that figure. And now we have a CPO statement, issued just as we write this, that confirms a further fact; Frankham had 103 discretionary votes and all were used to support the resolution.
The absolute murder being committed on the truth by some has taken this whole issue to a previously unknown nadir. Tantrums, disgraceful accusations, quite ludicrous assumptions and childish, foot-stamping frustration deserve absolutely no credibility whatsoever. The article on TheChels.net was quite the most demoralising demonstration of one-eyed, unfounded slander yet seen. And it simply has to stop since it contributes nothing - absolutely nothing - to the debate. We would expect these articles to be withdrawn and apologies issued. Those responsible are shareholders and have a right to comment and they claim to represent groups who they expect and hope will be taken seriously. Right now, the prospect of that is as remote as it is possible to be.
The behaviour of an ever decreasing number of aggressive and insulting individuals is corrupting shareholder desire to engage with the process at a time when we need more people involved. It diminishes the purpose of meetings, it diverts, in the most grotesque ways, the truth of the issues. It has become an insidious, relentless and increasingly unfounded smear campaign using the web and twitter. It is the cyberspace paroxysms of those who cannot accept their role as a minority, playground bullies and bar room lawyers biliously lashing out having parted completely from reality. Their comments become ever more extreme, untruthful, libellous even. It is shameful and will lead nowhere except, perhaps, to the demise of the CPO itself. All shareholders need to stand against this sort of thing without compromise. It embarrasses us all when, without even knowing the facts or seemingly understanding them, a shareholder screams "liar" at the board chairman and it is then reported approvingly in the above mentioned article.
It would be funny if it were not so tragic.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Of course, yesterday the result that caused upset was the rejection of the ten vote per shareholder limit. We are pleased that shares are back on sale.
The first thing to point out is that it would be a very one-dimensional assumption that those who beat away the resolution were all part of the much discussed "dodgy" share issue. They almost certainly were not since we have spoken to plenty of longterm shareholders on both sides of the argument who felt that it was wrong to withdraw their rights retrospectively. They would have preferred it to apply for future sales only. We are curious to know how some of those virulently in the "no" camp and who clearly control a great many shares, voted on this resolution. Nevertheless, we were keen for this resolution to pass, not so much because we felt it was "needed" in a practical sense but more because we believed it would help take the continuing heat out of the matter.
The reality is that the CPO board do not have to allow large purchases of shares and we feel it highly unlikely that there will be a renewed burst of purchases of 100 shares at a time. There will also likely be much tighter vetting. Indeed, and not a little ironically, the most likely course of events if a well known SayNo activist's tweets yesterday are anything to go by, is that there will be a concerted campaign of purchases by SayNo die hards in order to try to skew future votes. You couldn't make it up really.
It is vital that as many fans as possible are given the chance to become involved. Further, it is also critical that more of the current shareholders actually start to exercise their right to vote at EGMs. The turnout is pathetically low.
What is clear is that amidst all this hysterical conspiracy theorising, the real issues have actually been lost. Perhaps that is the intention? What is inescapable is the need for CFC to deal head on with the FFP regulations and it is in a bit of a pickle from the point of view of available options. The debate really does need to move on to just how this can be done. We wonder what might happen if all of the energies and emotions of those now attacking the CPO board and club was turned on LBHF, pressuring them to assist, say, a move to Earl's Court?
The continuing illogicality of their relationship with (and trust of) the council baffles us. These fans won't believe the evidence of the club regarding the expansion of Stamford Bridge but will unquestioningly lap up the unsubstantiated pronouncements of the council? If we all applied pressure and scrutiny to the council's continuing resistance, we might just get somewhere.
Friday, 20 July 2012
- There was lots of support on the panel for the idea that the CPO should start to charge substantial rent for Stamford Bridge in order to pay off the loan from the club. What makes the people on the panel - even Gray Smith, a lawyer – believe that there is a legal basis on which to tear up the existing lease for the ground and for the CPO to start imposing a rent on the club? Would the club not be within its rights to also ask for the terms of the loan repayment to be renegotiated?
- Why do so many people persist in expressing a lack of trust in Bruce Buck and Ron Gourlay but say that they can and do trust Roman? Do they really think anything BB or RG do is against Roman’s wishes? People have to start being honest with themselves. You are entitled to doubt Buck and Gourlay's motives and actions but this also means you have to apply the same measure of mistrust in Roman.
- People on the panel all insisted that the way the CPO is being used now is no different from its original purpose when it was established. Are they seriously suggesting that protecting Stamford Bridge from our own club's ambitions and using the CPO as a lever to gain fan control over the club is really what it was set up for in 1993?
- Lots of talk in the discussion about 15-17,000 CPO shareholders being a healthy and substantial number of Chelsea fans to ‘hold the club to account’. But this is the total number of shares sold, not the number of shareholders. And even then only 5796 shares were used to cast votes at the crucial 2011 EGM. For the sake of argument, lets remove the 2686 shares sold in October 2011 - that leaves just 3110 original CPO shares which were deployed in the EGM and only 2227 (shares not shareholders) saying No to the club’s proposal. This is far too few people to be holding such power over the future of the club (and let us not forget that we are told only 12% of CPO shareholders are current members or season ticket holders). The CPO as an organisation is in desperate need of selling more shares to fellow Chelsea fans and therefore becoming more representative and democratic.
- We also heard another myth being stated and accepted unquestioningly – that if it wasn’t for the CPO and individual CPO shareholders the club would have been evicted from Stamford Bridge. Simply not true. The CPO shareholders of course deserve credit for investing in shares and helping to protect the club from potential threats at the time from property developers. But in fact our protection has never been tested or required. The real battle of Stamford Bridge had already been won by Ken Bates when Cabra Estates went bust in 1992.
- We were fascinated by Adil Pastakia’s expectations regarding the forthcoming report from Campaign55’s friendly stadium architect. Can we ask, if this architect is not a Chelsea fan, exactly what are his motives for providing expert advice on stadium planning at Stamford Bridge? Is he receiving a payment of some kind? How do we know whether to trust his conclusions without fully understanding his agenda? Anyway, we nevertheless look forward to carefully surveying Campaign55’s plans for the Bridge when they appear.
- We noted that the panel were still peddling the myth that new stadia equal blanket increases in ticket prices. The fact is that larger stadiums allow a wider range of prices. Therefore, for example, while Arsenal season ticket prices are higher than ours and adult tickets for big matches are also higher (cheapest adult ticket for a top game is £62 at Arsenal compared to £56 at Chelsea next season) the cheapest adult price ticket for the lesser games are much lower (£25.50 at Arsenal compared to £47 at Chelsea). Perhaps this is something for the panel members to consider when promoting the idea of a maximum capacity of 55,000 and telling us tales of traditional fans now being priced out of attending games.
- We remain completely confused as to why most of the panel members seem to have complete confidence that LBHF are genuinely supportive of the idea of a 55,000 capacity at Stamford Bridge. This question was asked at the FanCast but it was never really answered. Facts: the council has a declared intention to keep the club where it is and, when put on the spot, they have never supported the club’s ambitions before. But they are still trusted more than the man who has invested more than £1bn in the club and who has made us Champions of Europe? It would be funny if it weren’t so bizarre.
- Finally, we continually see the new TV rights deal being cited as a reason that the stadium issue doesn’t matter anymore and this same point was made in the FanCast. But this misses the point. According to the latest Deloitte Football Money League report, Manchester United earned £108.6m in matchday income in the 2010/11 season compared to £93.1m for Arsenal and only (a creditable) £67.5m for Chelsea. Regardless of the rise in TV income this builds in a persistent £41m annual deficit in income for Chelsea compared to United and a £25.6m deficit to Arsenal. And given that a proportion of the additional TV income will be allocated on the basis of the on-field club performance, the matchday income gap will go towards supporting an increased TV income gap too. Stadium income still matters, regardless of the TV deal.
Thursday, 19 July 2012
We continue to say that as many fans as possible should be given an opportunity to have their say in this process, whatever the eventual proposals. And they should be given as many "easy-pay" opportunities as is practicable. A small rump of an already small minority of Chelsea fans cannot continue to obstruct, divert and bring an unpleasantly toxic tone to this whole process.
An exchange on Twitter last night gave quite an enlightening insight into quite how "personal" the matter has become. In answer to a comment that shares should go on sale to as many as possible, one tweeter responded that to do so now would "only benefit the club". This was further explained with "for club, read BB/RG". Really? This is all just a battle with two men? This is only about giving two executives at CFC a bloody nose? They represent the "club"? We don't like either of them so the "club" can go hang?
There seems no sensible reason why the constituency of CPO should not be increased. Well, there is one but we are not being fooled otherwise by people who simply appear determined to keep the process as contained and "winnable" as possible. With every day, this becomes clearer and clearer.
The suggestion that CPO should tear up the legal process and do whatever is asked of them is absurd. To propose that the club should be charged rent in order that the loan they hold the ticket on is repaid is nonsense. Suddenly, because a minority doesn't like what the majority may vote for, it wants to change the basis for the entire company, curtail the rights of other shareholders and to compress the constituency as much as possible. And they talk about "gerrymandering"? It is desperate, chaotic thinking of the most narrow-minded kind and we find it deeply unpleasant. It says that other fans, now that there is a real prospect of the club considering a move, should not in any circumstances have a right to contribute to that process. We are told that we should countenance such a thing because there are "dodgy" shares. Limiting the voting rights of all, including those "dodgy" shares has made no difference.
Because it isn't really about those shares.
It is about preventing the potential for a wave of other Chelsea fans, seduced and excited by the prospect of a new stadium, getting in on the act.
Why would the club NOT take a more hardline view of this now? They have been attacked, abused, assailed by endless accusations (none of which even nod respectfully in the direction of logic) that are more fancifully embroidered with every passing day. Land values trip off a myriad tongues, each seemingly eager to outdo their compliant interlocutors for outlandishness. "Gangsterism" and "criminality" are words flung about with abandon. Would any of us be surprised if the club decided to take every action necessary to disband Chelsea Pitch Owners in a trice? Would an owner, a billion pounds lighter in the pocket as his price for the joy we have all experienced in recent years, but now being accused of all manner of betrayal, malice and barefaced avarice, be harshly judged if he decided he'd had enough of it?
As sad an outcome as that would be, he wouldn't find himself condemned on these pages.