Monday 17 December 2012

New board member Charles Rose speaks

New appointee to the CPO board, Charles Rose, has posted a comment on our last blog. It is a form of mini-manifesto that we are sure many fans will be interested to read so we print it below along with his twitter feed; we were startled by the apparent modesty failure in the title of his twitter account but quickly realised this is related to a product he sells!
Anyway, here you are.

"Thank you for this comment. Whilst I do have experience of fundraising, I hope I bring more than just that to CPO. I used my law degree in Manufacturing and more recently in Construction and indeed Retail. I have also done quite a lot with regional as well as the National Chamber of Commerce and have media experience along side of this. 

My objective as I hinted at in the all too brief comment on the CPO website is to bring some calm and rational thought to CPO to regain some of the credibility lost during the last years meetings. As I stated at the last EGM this needs to be done through a proper well thought through strategy and decisive implementation. It will not be possible without the support of the very people who elect the board - the members of CPO, which is why our communication must get a lot better than it has recently.

To that end I am grateful for the folks who have already posted on various sites along the lines of lets see what these new members are about. That is all that I can ask. If you wish to communicate more then you can find me on twitter @prettyfabguy . Best Wishes Charles Rose"

New board members at CPO

After the recent appointment of Sean Jones QC and Charles Rose to the board of CPO, we note, with some exasperation, the broadside issued by SayNoCPO.

"SAYNO notes CPO chairman S. Frankham has once again chosen to impose new directors of his choice on shareholders rather than allow a full, open democratic election with a variety of candidates – particularly given an AGM is now to be held just 7 weeks away on Wed 30th January!" they thunder.

A board is not compelled to hold democratic elections when selecting its members; the demonstration of shareholder opinion comes when the new appointees are ratified at the forthcoming AGM. As we understand it people submitted their credentials for consideration and the board, including SayNo's own fox in the coop, Gray Smith, made the selections. A board with a good range of skills is vital and Jones,  a vociferous critic of the club over the initial share buy-back we believe, is a renowned operator in his field and we welcome an alternative legal opinion to that of Smith on the board. The QC would seem to be anything other than a "yes man". Mr Rose has a background in fundraising which should be useful.

No doubt several SayNo individuals forwarded their own CVs for consideration and are unhappy with the choices but it seems extraordinary to us that they would expect a board, who have suffered some pretty outrageous accusations and abuse, to invite such people into their midst. One member on the board seems to us to be a fair representation of the group. Indeed, we would argue that they are over-represented and with the appointment of another, less "managed" legal mind, we wouldn't be terribly unhappy to see Smith's removal. 

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

Battersea update

Much fanfare and optimism over at Battersea recently when the owners - rather too effortfully we thought - trumpeted their optimism over the start of work on the site. According to the developers, lots of people have expressed an interest in the residential properties that have been proposed. Work starts on the power station too which to many fans appears to close the door on a Chelsea stadium there. Not so. There is a legal obligation upon the owners to start repair and listed building work immediately. The infrastructure plans for the power station do not actually begin for some time which still leaves plenty of room for Chelsea to come to some arrangement with the Malaysians over the building's eventual use. Phase 1 is residential and doesn't overly impact the solution Chelsea have planned. The commercial element of the site is further away.

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

Chimneys? No problem!

It has been another normal week of fantastically weird goings on at the Bridge. We ought to be used to it by now.

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

Time for a message?

It has been a while since anything of note regarding CFC's stadium situation emerged. Earl's Court remains interesting now that the residents of West Ken and Gibbs Green estates have won the right to challenge the development in the High Court. All sorts of things might happen there.

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

Earls Court in more stormy water...

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

High Court ahoy

Those admirably dogged residents of West Ken and Gibbs Green estates won a significant victory last night when a judge granted them permission to take the Earl's Court development to the High Court. 

This means nothing in isolation of course (they still have to win their case) but being given the permission, with the judge clearly thinking a challenge was legitimate, means some serious rethinking of the whole project may be necessary. With the twin pronged attack by the residents also challenging the government to stand by their claims for the Big Society, we predicted that the granting of outline permission would not be the end of this affair. Now the matter is in the High Court it is naturally difficult to predict outcomes but the residents have put together a very strong case which features some fairly serious allegations against the council. The possibility that the residents may win should be haunting the council and the developers, CapCo. If a High Court judge rules that the estates should be protected, the whole master-plan will require redrawing and the council will lose out on £100 million from the conditional land sale (and, they would claim, lots of new housing). They may also have to repay CapCo the upfront fifteen mill the developer coughed up although this is not clear.

It has long been our assertion that the approach and strategy of the council towards CFC and Stamford Bridge was questionable. Hopefully, those who chose to believe their claims will be starting to see how high the stakes have been for them.

Monday 10 September 2012

Further Reflections on the Earls Court Design Review Panel Final Report

It is just two days since CFCTruth were the very first blog to uncover and publicise the utterly damning Earls Court Design Review Panel report which set out a long list of fundamental flaws with the current plans for the Earls Court Opportunity Area. If you haven’t yet read the document please take the time to do so.

It still surprises us that this document had not been reported far and wide both through the many blogs who have paid attention to the scheme and in the mainstream media – especially as the whole Earls Court development is so contentious. However, we hope this will quickly be remedied and that people across London will soon be made aware of exactly what kind of scheme Hammersmith & Fulham Council are likely to vote through on Wednesday 12th September.

Perhaps it is because the vote on the planning application is so imminent and the outcome so close to being inevitable, that some local commentators have struggled to recognise the potential importance of the report both to the people of London as a whole and also to the future of Chelsea Football Club.  So we will try to spell it out for them.

It is quite clear that the Panel have a series of concerns about the current plans for Earls Court. There is no need for us to restate them again - you can read the Panel’s criticisms in the report itself. But do we expect these comments and criticisms to affect the decision of the LBHF Planning Applications Committee on Wednesday? No we do not.

However, the decision on Wednesday is far from the last word on the scheme. Such a major development also requires the approval of the Mayor of London and, despite expectations to the contrary, Boris’s approval is not a foregone conclusion. Those who disagree might take the time to read the letter  dated 7 December 2011 from the GLA Development & Environment Directorate which sets out the 44 ways in which the first version of CapCo's planning application is inconsistent with Boris's London Plan.

What is obvious when reading the DRP Report (which is based on the latest version of the planning application) is that many of the long list of infringements of the London Plan that were identified by the GLA DED have still not been properly addressed by the developers.

The role of the Mayor in the process is quite clear. All applications for development which are of Potential Strategic Importance (and Earls Court certainly belongs in this category) have to be submitted for approval by the Mayor and he must respond within six weeks stating either that he:
  • allows the planning authority’s decision to stand.
  • directs that the application should be refused, or
  • will take over the application himself.

Any one of these outcomes is possible when it comes to Earls Court but based on the DRP report it seems highly unlikely that the Mayor will be in a position to give immediate approval to the scheme unless various issues are addressed. Otherwise, the Mayor himself could be opening himself up to potential legal challenge.

What could this mean for Chelsea's chances of working with CapCo and the councils in order to build a stadium at Earls Court? CFCTruth believe there is a possibility of a positive impact on this front as a result of the Mayor’s intervention but that, on balance, it would be best not to expect too much. As we have stated previously ( we believe that Boris is open to the idea of a stadium at Earls Court. Indeed his London Plan states specifically:

Earls Court & West Kensington
The potential for a strategic leisure, cultural and visitor attraction and strategically significant offices should be explored together with retail, hotels and supporting social infrastructure.

But, as of now, we still do not believe that the councils have seriously looked at incorporating a strategic cultural anchor into the Earls Court site let alone a stadium. And Boris may have an opinion on this specific point.

n.b.  It is worth noting that the Mayor's London Plan did not see any potential for such a “strategic leisure, cultural and visitor attraction” at Battersea/Nine Elms so perhaps it should not have been a surprise to us when his deputy came out so strongly against the idea of a stadium on that site.

So, as we have stated, our understanding is that Boris is open to the idea of a stadium at Earls Court (as are some key people within RBKC). But do we really think that the Mayor would be willing to fight for a stadium against the wishes of the local authority (and quite probably a sizable proportion of the local residents)? Sadly, we think probably not.

So is that the end of the matter? We think not and to explain why we need to go back to the Earls Court Masterplan and the DRP Report.

The current plans envisage the development being phased over a twenty year period with the final phase not due for completion until 2032. What this means in reality is that the developers intend to build on all the prime areas of the site first – areas which also happen to be cheaper to build on due to less of a need to build over existing railway tracks. Then, from autumn 2018 onwards, the developers promise they will build Phases 5, 6 and 7 which will require more extensive and expensive decking over the railway lines.

The DRP Report has real doubts about this. They state:

A further concern is the viability of the later stages of development where large areas of ‘building over’ are required. The Panel sees a risk that problems of viability may mean that the northern part of the masterplan ultimately does not proceed, and this would adversely affect any coherence that is achieved in the scheme. 

Interestingly, we have been reliably informed that this northernmost part of the site (the area due to be developed in Phases 5, 6 and 7) is by far the most likely location for a stadium on the site if permission could ever be secured. So we have a situation where even if the plans proceed exactly as expected, the potential stadium site would not start being developed until late 2018 at the earliest. And where the expert Design Review Panel is questioning whether it will ever be viable for the developer to build anything else on the most likely site of a new stadium whilst also separately stating that the whole development would benefit from a ‘significant cultural anchor user’.

This is when the dots start to be joined together. The Panel are stating in their report that the Earls Court development is inappropriate in terms of its scale and density. The GLA Development & Environment Directorate also said much the same in their letter which listed the 44 ways in which the planned development breached the London Plan. If Boris does act to reject the current planning application or (more likely) to ask for changes to be made then this can only impact further on the already marginal viability of CapCo’s plans for the north of the site thus making it all the more likely that the fully phased plan will never be completed. This would clearly put Chelsea back in the game.

However, it has to be said that this is not an entirely optimistic assessment of the situation. What if this scenario did come to happen and Chelsea were eventually given the chance to build a stadium at Earls Court? The Panel Report states that:

The reasoning for the siting of buildings to avoid them being located directly over the rail lines is understood as it would involve heavier long span structures and consequent high site formation costs.

What seems clear is that if everything falls into place and the club did somehow get the opportunity to build a stadium at Earls Court, they would also face huge logistical and engineering challenges in order to make the site in the North East of the Earls Court Opportunity Area work as a stadium location. This means that it would be an expensive option too, even setting aside the many likely planning obstacles. Would it be viable for the club? This can’t be determined at this stage but it would at least be a genuine option.

None of this is certain of course; all of it is speculative. But what IS certain is that the future of Earls Court will not be decided in a council committee room this week. It will not even be decided in Boris’s office in the next few months. This is a story that won’t be finished anytime soon whatever the council says. Instead, it will play out over the next decade and beyond. Watch this space.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Other emails

LBHF Planning Applications Committee
Councillor Alex Chalk (Chairman)
Councillor Matt Thorley
Councillor Colin Aherne
Councillor Michael Cartwright
Councillor Georgie Cooney
Councillor Oliver Craig
Councillor Rachel Ford
Councillor Peter Graham
Councillor Wesley Harcourt
Councillor Alex Karmel


Some people have asked for email addresses to which they can send their thoughts about the Earl's Court development.

The first two would be Mayor of London and the leader of LBHF council. More will follow;

Mayor of London

Leader LBHF            

We await contact from Cllr Adam or anybody else in response to our invitation. We will keep you informed.

Earl's Court plan rubbished by councils' own panel

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.

Hidden away on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea website is a report by a panel of experts including architects and individuals from English Heritage and GLA. The report is dated 12th August 2012. This panel was formed by both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and LBHF in order to report on the viability and general quality of the application by CapCo for the full development and implementation of the Earl's Court Masterplan. One assumes the report is to be considered prior to the outline planning application being heard next week. The report can be found here 

This is a fascinating document and if the council take heed of it, they will reject the application. The Panel says that it cannot support the application in its current form. In fact, when you read its catalogue of criticisms and at times barely concealed incredulity, you can only reach one conclusion; the Earl's Court masterplan is load of rubbish. It questions whether it will ever be finished too.

Among many criticisms, the Panel (paid for and commissioned by LBHF let us remember) say;

That there is no central "anchor user" or cultural heart of the project

That the north of the development does not appear to be viable for the use proposed

That the "four villages concept" is a decent one, the development will be nothing of the sort and will in fact resemble a high rise, densely populated urban sprawl

That the nature and vagueness of the outline approval sets up a real risk that the development will eventually be  beyond the control of the planning authorities

That the economic benefits the applicant claims will be generated have not been evidenced

That the development looks to be totally out of keeping with the area, will overwhelm it and is architecturally very unimpressive and "underwhelming"

They suggest the buildings and dwellings could be dark and oppressive

The panel has many concerns about the deleterious effect on the surrounding area such a densely populated development will have both in terms of quality of life for people living there, traffic chaos and congestion

The development has no "purpose" it leads nowhere, has no destination.

In every paragraph there is criticism.

In essence the panel has drawn a picture of a monstrous, densely populated, ill thought out soulless place with no purpose or point. They comprehensively condemn the whole idea, a conclusion that is easily drawn even with the reserved and cautious language of such reports.

The panel were also critical of the applicant and councils for not providing drawings and information when asked. It would, in any normal circumstance, lead one to believe that the planning application will be thrown out on its ear and sent back to the drawing board. The panel haven't said it, but a large cultural anchor use (like a football stadium perhaps?) would bring purpose to the development. But of course, these are not normal circumstances. LBHF now has a conditional land sale agreement in place for which they will receive  over 100 million quid. The council is in partnership with CapCo.  The panel allude to the sense of unbridled townscape vandalism that may well occur with such vague plans and that each consequent phase of the four villages concept is at risk of lacking harmony and coherence. But in effect, LBHF are not really in a position to turn their face against their generous new partner.

We will leave readers to digest this report themselves but we would urge fans to think very carefully about the picture that is emerging here. LBHF are about to give the go ahead to a project that their own experts have categorically rejected. Our reading of their conclusions is that the EC development has the potential for planning disaster.

We remain convinced that LBHF have some serious questions to answer. Fans should make every effort to lobby the council (not on their view that SB can be developed which they have yet to substantiate in any way beyond suggesting the club try to buy Oswald Stoll Mansions) but on why they are so ferociously opposed to working with CFC and CapCo to help the club move to Earls Court. Such a partnership would bring cash and purpose to the project and create a development with a solid vision, real purpose and heart and which would have a less crippling impact on the people living in the area.  Chelsea have also offered the exhibition industry the prospect of retaining EC as a major and vital facility that maintains the heritage of the site. 

Very little of what is going on appears to make any sense whatsoever and Chelsea fans must start to call the council to account on it. Now.

Friday 7 September 2012

Comment from LBHF

Readers may be interested to read comments at the bottom of our 3rd September post....

All eyes back on Earl's Court

Apologies for the long post this morning but it is worth the effort.

With Battersea Power Station seemingly drifting out of sight, all eyes are now back on Earl's Court.  LBHF's cabinet recently rubber stamped the CLSA with CapCo, flying in the face of the residents of the two estates, West Ken and Gibbs Green. We expect the matter to get fierce and political in coming months with the residents vowing to fight the development through the courts and you can see what they think if you use the links in our previous blog.

However, Chelsea are not idle on the matter either. In February they lodged an objection in the planning documents for the Seagrave Road element of the development and have done so again for a paper on the 12th September, when the scheme goes up for outline approval. 

We have for some time been explaining that Chelsea have been quietly working up plans and ideas for Earl's Court, playing the political system and seemingly getting support for a stadium at EC from Boris. Their submission to the planning committee is very explicit; Chelsea would bring speed and cash to the project and the opportunity area guidelines and London Plan leave open - nay, demand - the possibility of a stadium there. Indeed, CFC contend that the current master plan contravenes the expectations of the London Plan by not including sufficient cultural or leisure facilities.

Below we print the text from the planning paper. The first thing to note is that this text is written by a planning officer from LBHF and is his interpretation of the submission from Chelsea. In bold are three statements of interest; the first is a curiosity insofar as we are interested what other borough locations have been explored. The second perhaps offers a clue as the grounds upon which Chelsea might make a legal challenge and the third is a line we were amused by...the officer has chosen not to list the benefits CFC believe a stadium would bring to the area! 

Chelsea Football Club

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
club's requirements."

• 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

This next text is from a story in CoStar news

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

Earls Court: A Missed Opportunity

Chelsea fans may be interested in the Cabinet Meeting taking place at LBHF tonight. The sale of the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates is crucial to CapCo's plans to develop Earl.'s Court and produce a healthy wedge of cash for the council. We print below the press release published by residents of those estates and it makes a very serious charge of gerrymandering against the council. It also offers up an interesting challenge to the Prime Minister.

We have little doubt that the council, despite the consultation results, will force through the plan to sell and demolish the estates but it would appear that the whole issue could begin to generate quite a bit of controversy at a local and perhaps national level.  It also puts into context the challenge that Chelsea have been facing with this issue. Not acquiring the shares a year ago was a lost opportunity as CapCo were ready to do business with the club at the expense of the council. A shame. 

Is EC lost as an option should these plans be approved? Well, it isn't going to get any easier, that is for sure.

Here is the full press release:

Prime Minister faces final Big Society test: Will he let his favourite Council bulldoze our community? 
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

Wise and harrassment

It is hardly a surprise that Dennis Wise has decided that he has better things to be doing with his life than suffer the harassment and vilification of a few people and has wandered off into the sunset, resigning his position on the CPO board as he does so. His body language at the quite absurd January AGM suggested he was ready to walk then. Doubtless the horrendous (and as it turned out totally inaccurate) accusations aimed at his friend Frankham after the recent EGM put the final nail in the coffin.

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


We are often not sure if SayNoCPO are actually serious with their pronouncements.

They have welcomed Fulham's permission to expand their stadium. We had to laugh at that one.
Apparently, "all sides agree" that 55k is possible at Stamford Bridge "if certain egress problems can be overcome".  We had another - even bigger - laugh at that one. 

They are also promising to monitor future share sales in CPO "for evidence of further gerrymandering or profiteers". This would be a different kind of gerrymandering to the gerrymandering they were furiously tweeting about recently; namely that they would try to buy up over 400 of the 1000 shares available annually to block votes. After their misjudged and enormously wild accusations regarding proxy votes of the chairman, one would think they would be taking a slightly lower profile. At this point we were breathless on the floor with mirth.

We at CFCTruth shall be monitoring things carefully for evidence of gerrymandering and profiteering......

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Comments on this and other websites

CFCTruth allows moderated comments on this website. We have had complaints that we do not. There is a link beneath the posts that shows published comments. We may consider allowing unmoderated comments but this will likely require some form of registration to the website. We do not believe people wish to do that. Let us know if you have problems leaving comments.

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.

"F***** cowards and liars"

The heading refers to things said in an open EGM to the chairman of CPO.

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 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.

Grow up.

Tuesday 24 July 2012


So another meeting of CPO shareholders causes upset and "controversy". We won't bore you with a full report but suffice to say it was fractious and, when the result was heard, a little distasteful too in our opinion. It really is time that people understood that CPO is a legal entity, bound by laws of the land. It is not a supporter's lobby group or fan club. And shareholders have a right to vote...

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

Reflections on the CPO FanCast

Having listened to the full 125 minutes (phew) of the Chelsea FanCast CPO Special we don’t regret for a moment our decision to decline Chidge’s polite invitation. Of course the debate would have benefited from the presence of a more moderate alternative view but we know we would have found it difficult to present our position without being shouted down. However, it did leave us wondering what questions and points we would have made had we been present. So we made a list...

  • 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.
Overall, we found the experience of listening to the FanCast illuminating if a bit depressing. Chidge marshalled the discussion very effectively and sometimes the odd sensible and thoughtful point did make it through. But the overall tendency was for everyone to agree with one another a bit too much - which we suppose was always the inevitable outcome given the skewed balance on the panel. Roll on the EGM.

Thursday 19 July 2012


We were pleased to see the statement from the CPO board confirming the need to sell shares. The apparent change of view from Gray Smith during the recent fan cast needed clarification because we cannot have information going out on EGM papers that is then seemingly contradicted by one of those who had put his name to the advice.

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.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

What is it all about

"Why do you remain anonymous? It just makes you seem a bit sinister. Are you really paranoid? Or are you agents working in the shadows feeding false information into the debate on behalf of unseen forces with a financial interest in a move from Stamford Bridge? (that's us being paranoid)."

And thus was a comment left on our blog.  In recent weeks CFCTruth appear to have become central to the argument with a plethora of tweeters focusing on our desire to remain out of the public eye and with our decision not to take part on David Chidgey's fan cast; we have become the great, dark force of evil, the touchstone for the "yes" camp, even though nobody knows yet what there is to say "yes" too. It is nice to be wanted.

It is not clear how many times we have to say this but CFCTruth is not a campaign group. This really is a crucial position. The birth of CFCTruth came about in response to the sort of debate we were seeing around the original CPO EGM back in October last year. It was full of misinformation and conspiracy. As we saw it, a small minority of fans were trying to determine the future of Chelsea Football Club, appointing themselves guardian of all that the club was, is and will be. We felt that there was a role for a group who could gain information and facts, analyse them and put them before the majority of Chelsea fans (CPO and non CPO shareholders) and let them draw conclusions from what we discovered. Occasionally it is necessary to point out the inconsistencies, untruths and at times downright dishonest arguments of those determined to thwart the club's desire to move and this position will inevitably, given the minds of habitually and notoriously absolutist football fans, bring down opprobrium upon us. There is a presumption that WE believe the club should and must move. The issue is more subtle than that. 

We set out to discover what the club had been doing about a move. When it made its offer, we suspected that there were things afoot. We were also inclined to "trust" the club and Roman Abramovich to do something that would have a positive effect on the club's future. In the end, the EGM became a referendum on trust. Taking that view has cast us indisputably in the role of monstrous club puppet. There is little we can do about that.  But what we discovered and what then came to light in public submissions was that the club had been actively involved in pursuing Earl's Court and needed to move on it quickly. Without rehearsing the arguments about how they handled the offer, this is a fact that people continue to ignore.

So our position has remained, since then, one of information gatherer, analyst and possibly even gossip monger, all rolled into one. We have revealed the full picture behind the reasons for LBHF's position on SB and Earl's Court. Some of that through contacts but mostly through searching through public documents and drawing a picture for fans to examine themselves.  We hoped in our blogs that the club should publish more information about their own findings in respect of the potential for a Stamford Bridge development because this was crucial if we were to understand the basis of their claims. They did so and on examining it, talking to others in the industry and those engaged with these orts of -and actual- feasibilities, we are generally convinced that the club's stance on this is a correct one. This is further confirmed by the apparent agreement of the council that Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions is a necessary acquisition for the development. 

So where does this leave the club?

The sites that are available are well known. Battersea seems to be a lost cause (although a lack of comment from the club gives us some hope that something may be going on) and Earl's Court is difficult. The greatest bar to Earl's Court is the council. We believe that CapCo would welcome Chelsea's participation. Politics is the game here and we have written extensively about it. One of our roles, we believe, is to get as much information about the issues as we can so that fans can actually apply some pressure on the council. What appears to be happening is that certain fans groups are in sympathy with the council, applauding their stance, despite all of the history and evidence. In fact, the debate has hardened into being about Chelsea not leaving Stamford Bridge at all. And that is not a very forward looking way of thinking about the club's future in our opinion.

As a group of many people, we happen, through our working lives, to come into contact with those who can provide information that is useful and relevant. As is the way of such things, that means we cannot, if we expect them to speak to us, identify ourselves. In fact, amid all the charges that we are a club organ, are in league with the CPO board etc, what gets missed is that we often know far more about the process than certainly the CPO board! As for the club, we have often stated that we don't want information from them in order that we can be sure of the veracity of our information.

We are not "yes" or "no". We are perceived as the "enemy" according to one group because we would countenance a move away from Stamford Bridge. We are the enemy because we don't necessarily believe that Roman Abramovich should shell out hundreds of millions of pounds without the project offering any prospect of a return for the business. 

We are fans and shareholders with a clearly less heated view of the issues who believe all supporters of the club should know the facts. It is often ignored that the great majority of fans see the argument quite clearly, as put by the club, and can see the sense of a move should it be possible, going forwards into a new era, even though they may mourn the loss of Stamford Bridge. Many of those fans don't actually have a voice either. Our Twitter account is approaching 2,000 followers and our blog has had over 30,000 visits. That at least shows there is an appetite for what fans perceive as information, analysis and a more balanced view that isn't infected by accusation, hysteria, suspicion and nastiness. That obviously makes us a target for those whose minds are closed or who have ulterior motives.

There have even been quasi legal threats to "expose" us, presumably in the hope of revealing some dark and sinister phalanx of club or CPO operatives! Anybody would think we were criminals! But it shows the extent to which some people will allow their emotions to carry them away and, it has to be said, does little to promote a sense that their arguments are based on anything other than those emotions. 

Our advice to other co-ordinated campaign groups is to stop accusing people of conspiracy and darkness and to just put forward cogent arguments, based on more than the urging of the council. Don't claim one thing and then do another. Don't obfuscate, dissemble and divert. Fans are not quite as stupid as you think. Don't attack those who disagree with you or put before Chelsea fans information that contradicts your claims. Don't accuse the club of criminality and conspiracy. See the whole picture and then support the club you profess to love in taking us forward. 

And most of all, don't simplify the matter. Face realities. We know it is the way of football fans to see things in black and white, to instinctively want their cake and eat it, to see the monied owners of clubs as being the "enemy". We require something more sophisticated than that. Because often, whilst you are standing up, playing to the gallery and getting cheered on in your display of old school dedication and terrace authenticity, you might just be missing the point.  The truth is out there, usually somewhere in the middle, and you are shouting over it.