Myriad reports that Battersea has gone to the Malaysians in recent days, statements from Wandsworth council, then more reports that Bradman was in pole position to build a car park, then stories he had lost his funding from the Rueben brothers, then that the Setia consortium who were apparently in final negotiations to take over the site did not, in fact, have a large pension fund EPF on their team. And that is all in the past five days. And so the saga of Battersea rumbles on. What you don't hear mentioned in all of this is where Chelsea stand and the reason for that is nobody really knows. But we think we do.
The bid is now down to two; CFC and Setia. Setia's bid is higher but there are many complex interests to decipher and negotiate in a sale as large and as high profile as this. The property press are desperate to get a story on Battersea so when they get a whisper, they run with it and fill in the blanks themselves. So partial truths embroidered with supposition (not checked) produce stories of seemingly cast iron accuracy. CoStar news got a jolt yesterday when their much trumpeted piece on Setia's bid with EPF was rubbished by EPF later in the day. It seemed CoStar didn't actually check the veracity of their source leak. There is also the issue of assumed fact; the assumed fact, for example, that Boris will block a stadium. The assumed fact that Wandsworth don't want us there. That last one came into focus recently when the council announced they would be flexible on the use of the power station. That was taken by some to mean they would allow it to be demolished and by others that they were indicating they would be happy for a stadium to be integrated with it.
These deals are surrounded by vultures and vested interests and the press is where people often try to force the issue or get the upper hand. Talk in the definitive and you might be able to establish fact . There is no question that the administrators are chasing the dollar on this and money will probably, ultimately, talk. And here is something to consider; these stories are emanating from somewhere and whose interests are best served by upping the ante on price? It is not entirely clear whether they will accept last minute bid increases. But as with everything else like Earl's Court and the LBHF claims, we would urge readers to look at the entire picture and not hop from one story to the next.
If Setia do indeed claim victory - and now that their apparent partner has been revealed not to be one, that is not a certainty - then we would suggest the game is not even then over. Our belief is that there is strong possibility they might approach Chelsea. Stories (those hitherto inaccurate stories) have claimed Setia want to go with more housing stock and others have suggested they will go with the existing masterplan but we really don't think we should assume that is entirely correct. Wandsworth's recent statement could well be designed to open the door to a partnership. Something, after all, has to be done with the listed building at the heart of the site....
Right now, Chelsea are in a decent position, if not a commanding one. Take everything you read in the media with a large dose of salt until the club announce that they are out of the game. As soon as they are out of it, we are sure they will tell us.
And then there is Earl's Court....for another time perhaps.