Thursday 12 December 2013

Local election matters

This blog has been quiet for a while and the reason is fairly obvious. Despite odd rumours things are very quiet on the stadium front and a number of the available relocation options for the club are either fast disappearing or have already gone. The Malaysians are embarking on their redevelopment of Battersea, the Earls Court project is edging forward in endlessly controversial fashion and even the choice of last resort for some – Old Oak Common – may be more likely to become the new Loftus Road than the new Stamford Bridge.

Our view is that the elements are almost certainly converging on two remaining possibilities  either (a) a limited and unsatisfactory expansion of Stamford Bridge or (b) no change at all. And the former will happen only with the co-operation of the ever-supportive council (questionable) and the agreement of the local community (highly unlikely). At which point we will all have to draw our own conclusions about who is responsible for leaving the club with so few options and with so many missed opportunities.

But there may just be one story to keep an eye on over the coming months. Is it possible that Earls Court may not be the completely dead duck that we are led to believe? It is true that the status of Lillie Bridge is still unclear (Transport for London has still not done a deal with CapCo and appear in no rush to do so). But even more interestingly the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham local elections are scheduled for May 2014.

For many people, local elections often seem virtually irrelevant. But in this case, this is an election which could actually make a real difference to the future of the Earls Court project and potentially also, if all various balls fall in place, to the possibility of a stadium being built in the area. Let us explain…

To begin, let us establish the view of key figures in the London Labour Party to the LBHF Tories' pet project in Earls Court. Here are a few key quotes:

"Save Earls Court Exhibition Centres from Demolition & Overdevelopment"
Stephen Cowan, Leader of the LBHF Labour Group, urging people to sign the above petition, December 2012.

"Residents are alarmed by the proposed destruction of their well-established community on the Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates, where 760 units are home to families and others living in modern flats and lovely houses with gardens. Industry experts express concern that the destruction of the exhibition space at Earls Court will cost thousands of jobs and £1 billion the facilities currently bring into the local economy."
Nicky Gavron, Labour member of the London Assembly & former Deputy Mayor, June 2013.

"Earls Court/West Ken is the Tories' biggest social engineering project, uprooting thousands of low income Londoners and replacing them with ten times the number of high–rise luxury flats for overseas and City investors. As planning authorities, the Tory mayor and councils have torn up the rule book to help their developer friends, and as landowners they have sweetened the deal with hundreds of millions of taxpayers' money. This is ideology and gerrymandering corrupting local government as never before."
Andy Slaughter, Local Labour MP, July 2013.

Based on these quotes it appears quite clear that Labour remains resolutely and unequivocally against the project in its current form. But please also note this quote:

"The challenges to this monstrous scheme are just starting, not finishing. This scheme will be continue to be fought through the courts and at the local elections next May"
Andy Slaughter, Local Labour MP Oct 2013.

It seems certain that the LBHF Labour Party will fight the next local elections on a platform of opposition to the scheme. But do they have a genuine chance to win?

The current political complexion of the 'deep blue' council in Hammersmith & Fulham is as follows:

  31 councillors
  15 councillors

This means that Labour will need to elect at least 24 councillors in the forthcoming election to take control of the council. To achieve that, the party will require a swing of around 4.4% in its favour which on the face of it looks achievable given the volume of local opposition to the scheme.

To support the feasibility of this outcome, current opinion polls suggest that we should expect a swing of around 7.2% from the Tories to Labour in the borough which, if this reflected actual votes in May suggests that the outcome of the election would be as follows:

  20 councillors
  26 councillors

This result would give Labour a working majority of 6 in Hammersmith & Fulham. But it has to be acknowledged that there are so many factors at play in the borough including opposition to the project, gentrification, the rise of UKIP and its possible impact on the Tory vote and of course national factors like the economy to suggest that no outcome is certain this far ahead of the elections. But the evidence suggests that Labour at least have a fighting chance of winning control of the council.

So we know Labour is vehemently opposed to the Earls Court Project in its current form. We also know that they may well win a majority in Hammersmith & Fulham in the local elections next May. But, if they do win, what then? Could they really stop the project from happening?

That would be difficult to imagine happening. The law on the potential revocation (or modification) of planning permission is summarised in House of Commons Standard Note SN00905The limits of the powers of the council are explained quite clearly.

The key point to make is that while a council has some rights to revoke or modify planning permission, they cannot do it unilaterally. Once planning permission has been granted then any revocation or modification of this permission means that the applicant (in this case CapCo) can claim compensation. And the fact is that Hammersmith & Fulham council simply does not have hundreds of millions on reserves in order to pay back what CapCo as a company have already ploughed into theEarls Court project.

In addition, any decision to revoke or modify planning permission for the Earls Court Project will also have to be ratified by the Secretary of State who in this case is Eric Pickles. A Labour-led council shouldn't expect an easy ride there either.

So is that the end of the matter? Far from it. What CapCo have secured at this stage is Outline Planning Permission for the scheme which gives them broad permission to move forward with the project and which sets out certain conditions attached to the work including how the land will be parcelled up, how the phasing of the project will work, building design guidelines and so on. They have also confirmed a Section 106 agreement setting out what CapCo will do in return for permission and a Regulation 24 statement explaining the reasons why permission has been granted.

What has not been agreed at this stage are detailed plans for each part of the development. In planning law these are called 'reserved matters' and the current planning permission for the scheme acknowledges that detailed 'reserved matters' applications will follow in due course.

It is at this stage that a hypothetical Labour-led council in LBHF could cause trouble for CapCo. Although there are limits to the council's powers over the overall project, CapCo may well decide that it would make more sense to work with the new council than against them. In other words there may be some scope for negotiation on certain aspects of the overall scheme.

If this should happen then we could almost certainly expect a compromise that left the residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates with a better deal and perhaps also a greater emphasis on genuinely affordable housing in the overall scheme. There could also be a deal to either save the Exhibition Centre, or perhaps more likely, an agreement to include some exhibition facilities in the revised project.

All of these changes would have the direct effect of making the Earls Court project less lucrative forCapCo. How could they deal with that loss of potential revenue from the project? Well one way might be to revisit the proposal that CapCo themselves have previously approached Chelsea FC with – that is,the idea of a stadium (along with associated conference and exhibition space) being incorporated into the scheme.

We know that CapCo are theoretically open to this idea as was the council in Kensington & Chelsea (which shares the site with LBHF). We also know that even Boris was prepared to consider the possibility (let us not forget that a large-scale cultural facility in the area was proposed in his London Plan). It is instructive to re-read the club's previous submission on the subject from last year:

[Chelsea Football Club] 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."

Please note that CFCtruth is not suggesting at this stage that a superb new stadium on the Earls Court site for Chelsea FC is the likely outcome of the situation. It is still an incredibly long shot in our view. But we have outlined a scenario in which a stadium which incorporates exhibition and conference facilities might suddenly look like an attractive option to certain key parties compared to the current plan. And this may even be true for local residents who we know would probably have been the hardest to convince over the merits of a stadium in Earls Court. But compared to the current faceless mega-development it may just look a little more appealing.  

So what are we saying? At this point all we are saying is that we should watch how things develop over the coming months. Because come 23rd May 2014 on the morning after the elections, the ground in LBHF may just have started to shift...

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Secretary of State not calling in Earl's Court

It is of little surprise to hear that the Secretary of State will not be calling in the Earl's Court development; so politically dynamite is this project, it is hardly conscionable that he would jeopardise it. The SoS has several criteria to consider when deciding if he will call in a development for his personal decision. They are quite clear and in making his decision, the SoS is saying that the criteria are not met.  Activists have been circulating refutations of that opinion and we reproduce them below. The criteria are in bold and the arguments against the SoS's decision are below each.

Do not involve a conflict with national policies on important matters 

"The proposals obviously conflict with national policies for the Big Society and Localism because they involve dictating the future of the local community against its wishes. The Prime Minister and his minister have repeatedly claimed they are giving power to the people, to local communities, to decide the future of their neighbourhoods. The importance of these policies is reflected in the many statements from the Secretary of State and other Ministers. The Prime Minister has personally championed these policies, claiming this is something he is "passionate" about. 

This conflict with national policy on this important matter has been reported in the national press, with dozens of articles in the Guardian and in the national media, including national television, and hundreds and thousands of media articles. For example, on 12 January 2011 the Financial Times ran a story with the headlines: "Regeneration row. West London project runs into difficulties. 'Big Society' threat to Earl's Court Scheme"."

Do not have significant long term impact on economic growth and meeting housing needs across a wider area than a single authority 

"The loss of the Earl's Court Exhibition Centres would have a significant long term impact on economic growth across many local authorities and more widely given their major role in UK and world trade. The Secretary of State is not qualified to opine otherwise since no economic assessment of their loss was made.

There is a significant impact on meeting housing needs across the wider area, which is caused by failing to take advantage of this development opportunity to maximise the amount of additional affordable housing prescribed by policy. "

Do not have significant effects beyond their immediate locality

"The destruction of the Exhibition Centres has significant effects across London and throughout the UK (more on this from AEO below) as it leads to loss of business for hundreds of UK companies and in some case closure of businesses or cessation of Earl's Court related operations, which is obviously an effect beyond its immediate locality.

The Centres generate at least £1 billion a year for the UK economy and play a major role in UK and international trade that would be lost and not replaced. 

The relocation of the Lillie Bridge rail depot, which is the premier servicing facility for London Underground would be forced away from it central location, most likely to Ruislip. This would have a significant effect on the safe and efficient running of the Underground across the whole of London, which is obviously an effect beyond its immediate locality."

Do not give rise to substantial cross boundary or national controversy 

"On 23 August, 2013, Planning Magazine, the trade press for the planning profession reported the Secretary of State's decision with the headline: "No call in for controversial Earls Court scheme", The first word of the first sentence of the article is "Controversial".

On 24 August 2013 the BBC reported the SoS's decision not to call in. 

It is quite apparent from reading just a few of the hundreds of media articles, and journalists have said so, that the scheme has given rise to cross-boundary and national controversy." 

Do not raise significant architectural and urban design issues

"Sir Terry Farrell would be surprised to hear that his scheme does not raise any significant architectural and urban design issues. The masterplan refers to a "unique opportunity" for "this extraordinary site" and lauds the masterplanner's "visionary approach" for "an innovative and vibrant new district that is a beacon for sustainable living" that "introduces a new metropolitan 'front door' to the capital".

 In a Hammersmith & Fulham council press release dated 23 August 2013, developer Gary Yardley said: "The Masterplan will create a remarkable new district for London".

 At £8 billion, the Earl's Court redevelopment is claimed to be the largest in the world outside of China. It involves the demolition of 760 decent homes, the EC Exhibition Centres and the rail depot so as to build 7,000, 80% of which would be unaffordable. It will involve the construction of several tower blocks up to 30 storeys high and over 4,000 car parking spaces.

 "As the written ministerial statement of 10 May 2013 makes clear, the Government wants to see a focus on refurbishment and improvement of rundown or vacant properties rather their demolition.  We would expect, in line with George Clarke's ten point plan, landlords to consider options to upgrade and refurbish existing homes, in consultation with tenants, prior to considering demolition." (Consultation on the Housing Transfer Manual 23 July 2013)

 Ministerial Statement 10 May 2013 Empty Homes. Mark Prisk: "As part of this commitment, we have explicitly rejected the last Administration's top-down, large-scale Whitehall targets for demolition and clearance. The obsession with demolition over refurbishment was both economically and environmentally wasteful, as well as involving significant damage of our nation's heritage."

Do not involve the interests of national security or of foreign governments

It likely will involve foreign governments given how much new development in inner London has been purchased by sovereign wealth funds, especially from Middle Eastern countries."


As background, this is what ECO say about themselves;

"Earls Court One and Two together have a total 60,000 square metres of event space and add to these facilities the purpose-built conference centre and the Museum Hall party space can boast a venue and a space for every event.

Over the years, the venues have welcomed visitors to shows such as the London Boat Show, the British Motor Show, the Ideal Home Show, the London Book Fair, the Great British Beer Festival and the Good Food Show. 

The halls have resounded to performances by world-famous artists such as Madonna, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, George Michael, Elton John, Kylie, Rod Stewart, Queen and the Rolling Stones. 

We've hosted the BRIT Awards, and sporting events such as boxing and wrestling contests, and some of the country's largest companies have held conferences, training sessions and massive staff parties in our venues. 

As the ultimate accolade, Earls Court  was selected to be a London 2012 Olympic venue – chosen, according to Lord Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, for its west London location and excellent transport links.

All of this puts Earls Court at the heart of the communities in which they operate, as the 1.5 million visitors, 15,000 exhibiting companies and 300 events that we cater for every year have a sizeable economic impact – in terms of jobs and expenditure. 

A study carried out on behalf of Earls Court and sister venue Olympia London, showed that the two venues together supported £258m of expenditure in their boroughs and over £1.25bn in the London region, and accounted for (directly and indirectly) over 1,000 jobs in the boroughs and around 12,500 in London.

The study also showed that one in two Londoners visits the venues every year."

And this is what the Association of Event Organisers say about the SoS's decision that the development has no impact on economic performance

"The reason for the purported 'decline' of this hugely important venue is that Capital & Counties purchased the site with the sole aim of redevelopment and set about doing as little as possible to refurbish/update the facilities. The reason for their desire to redevelop is that the land value currently stands at approx. £10 million per acre, whilst residential would increase that to £25 million per acre.
The developers are doing their business BUT it is the responsibility of local and national government to look beyond the profit generation of property companies and recognise the impact on our industry which generates in excess of £11 billion per year in net expenditure.
The notion that all Earls Court based events can simply move to Olympia or ExCeL is simply ludicrous – this is not just a question of square metres. It must be understood that there are only 52 weeks in a year and venue cannot host similarly-themed events within 3-months of each other.
As a further thought, the business that is stimulated through the platform of these events runs into the £100 billions – consumer spend at the last Ideal Home Show was £741 per capita. With 270,000 visitors that equates to over £200,000,000!! If we look at Farnborough Air Show achieving circa £49 billion of contracts signed, it is a simple deduction that the entire event industry figure is easily in the £100 billions, and most importantly that Earls Court will be responsible for a large percentage of that business.
Karim Halwagi
Chief Executive Officer
Association of Event Organisers Ltd"

It is worth noting that Chelsea's submission to the Seagrave Road planning application was very clear about maintaining a major exhibition space at EC...

Anyway, plenty to consider.....

Monday 10 June 2013

TfL statement...who is shaking their tree?

Interestingly vociferous statement from TfL in response to stories that they were hawking Lillie Bridge to CFC. We add bold emphasis.....

"Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at Transport for London said: "We remain committed to the regeneration and delivery of the Earls Court Opportunity Area. We continue to seek to reach an agreement with our leaseholder, CapCo, in relation to its freehold interest in the land around the existing Earls Court 1 and 2, and hope that these discussions can be concluded shortly. We are also assessing how we might take forward the development of Lillie Bridge Depot. Any such development will be in line with the agreed Master plan"

Which is interesting because on 17 April this year, the same Mr Graeme Craig of TfL appeared before a committee of the London Assembly and said this;

"With regards to specific assets, the Committee also asked Craig to explain where Lillie Bridge Depot, and its potential sale, fitted into the current Business Plan. "Lillie Bridge depot – there are assumed revenues in the business plan. Not £200m, as it happens, from development at Earls Court." Craig explained. "But the business plan doesn't assume any disposal of Lillie Bridge depot. That's in part because we haven't yet carried out the work on – or the work hasn't been completed – on the feasibility of removing the operational infrastructure and the stabling at Lillie Bridge Depot. So there's work underway on Lillie Bridge Depot and we should know by the end of this year as to whether it will be developable as part of the wider Earls Court Masterplan."

As far as we are aware, the "end of the year" is a little way off.

We leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions as to who may have now leant on TfL after, perhaps,  being caught with their fingers in the CFC cookie jar......

Wednesday 15 May 2013

CPO minutes - legal costs outrage

The latest minutes of the CPO board meeting can be read at the link below. But some of the content is depressing and alarming;

Extreme concern was expressed by all at the legal
 costs incurred by the recent responses to the S793 letters and follow up responses and queries. The bills will be reviewed and discussed with Stephenson Harwood0(SH) by GS. Of the bills incurred 60% were in relation to queries and matters raised by a single shareholder"

It seems that the board is often beset by a very few individuals who, with conspiracy and malice a forethought, insist on pursuing blind alleys and fruitless diversions. As if the shenanigans of the recent letters (acquiesced to by the board despite their advice that it would be pointless) is made all the more perverse when follow up questions have resulted in even greater costs.  It seems wholly inappropriate that a single shareholder should be so able to threaten the precarious financial situation of the company with picturesque showboating and embroidered bar room legal pursuit. We would suggest the board do whatever they can to prevent this happening again and to put the brakes on this person.

Shareholders need to realise that the company is in serious danger. If a minority of shareholders continue to chuck mud and insist that CPO carries the cost, there will be NO CPO in very short order. Quite a few people are beginning to see that as something of a positive outcome and that has to be the height of irony.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

EC, Lillie Bridge, the residents fight on and those dodgy shares

A long blog this week in order to cover two interesting aspects of the EC development.

In recent weeks, we have drawn attention to the Lillie Bridge depot, in particular blogs by The Guardian's Dave Hill and other bits and pieces suggesting that the necessary sale of the depot to CapCo for the larger EC development was not a foregone conclusion.

In March last year we wrote in this blog;

" Boris, in his capacity as Mayor, is the largest landowner of the site as he owns Lillie Bridge through TfL and the Earls Court Exhibition Centre (ECEC) freehold which is leased to CapCo. Reference to Lillie Bridge Depot as being a critical issue has come to our attention before and this is a strong hint as to why that nugget was placed before us."

We have also been recently drawn to an appearance before the London Assembly by Graeme Craig, commercial director of Transport for London. He was questioned about the current TfL business plan.  According to Craig;

"Lillie Bridge depot – there are assumed revenues in the business plan. Not £200m, as it happens, from development at Earls Court." Craig explained. "But the business plan doesn't assume any disposal of Lillie Bridge depot. That's in part because we haven't yet carried out the work on – or the work hasn't been completed – on the feasibility of removing the operational infrastructure and the stabling at Lillie Bridge Depot. So there's work underway on Lillie Bridge Depot and we should know by the end of this year as to whether it will be developable as part of the wider Earls Court Masterplan."

So the long standing nod and wink (we were first given a steer as to the criticality of Lillie Bridge well over a year ago) is starting to form into an interesting reality. The difficulty is in predicting what it means or what will happen. It is our instinct that TfL will eventually sell but that they are determined to squeeze as much value as possible from its sale. It is clear they themselves don't consider that to necessarily be as part of the EC Masterplan. CapCo are having to wait until the end of this year to know whether Lillie Bridge is going to be made available to them and how much it will cost which is presumably a pretty alarming prospect; or maybe it is an opportunity?
We can think of one or two scenarios emerging here....but even in a positive light, it might appear like a conspiracy theory so, for now, we will allow our readers to speculate alone...


Still at EC, residents of Gibbs Green and West Ken estateshave had a knock back in their latest application for judicial review but won something of a moral victory when the council's application for costs was firmly rejected by the judge.  Residents return to the High Court on July 17th for a substantive hearing to consider their challenge to the Council's planning policy that underpins the Earl's Court scheme. However, in this case, the judge makes some profoundly interesting comments.

"At an oral hearing on Tuesday 23 April, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, Clive Lewis QC refused permission for judicial review of Hammersmith & Fulham Council's decision to sell the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates to Earl's Court developer Capco. At the same time he dismissed the Council's application for costs.

 In his judgment, the Judge said:

The Claimant is Mr Greatwood. He is a secure tenant on the West Kensington estate. He has lived there for 20 years. It is his home. It is not surprising he is concerned and worried about this proposal. It is not surprising that he has brought the matter before this Court. He is supported by a number of other tenants who are also concerned, as you would expect, about the impact on their homes and the places where they live. Mr Greatwood, has, if I may say, put forward his arguments carefully and moderately.

I pay tribute to Mr Greatwood and his supporters for the careful, considered and moderate way in which they have put these arguments in this Court.

Firstly, I take on board the point that this is a matter of very great importance to Mr Greatwood and his friends. He is a secure tenant on these estates; he has lived there for 20 years. This is his home. He was perfectly entitled, in my judgment, to challenge the lawfulness of the decision. Secondly, the way he has conducted himself, in my judgment, is exemplary. He has done everything he can to assist this Court by focusing his arguments and taking points that appear sensible. He has done everything he can to marshal quite difficult material and papers. In my judgement, his conduct cannot be criticised in any way whatsoever.... So, in my judgment, it would be inappropriate to order the costs of the Acknowledgment of Service. So, whilst I fully understand the application made by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham … the application for costs is dismissed.

Upon advice, the Claimant has decided not to appeal the Judge's decision. Harold Greatwood said:

I'm not going anywhere, and I know that the majority of my neighbours shall also be staying put. We're back in court this summer. It's far from over: we fight to the bitter end.


And finally.....

A little birdie tells us that the number of shares still in dispute after the s793 letter farrago is fewer than 100.... Considerably fewer in fact.

Friday 12 April 2013

Section 793 letters

And so the much heralded and expensive process to "out" "fraudsters" has been more or less concluded with the following statement from the CPO board;

"Further to our statement after the deadline for replies had passed, we can confirm responses were received in respect of 42 of the 47 shareholders who were contacted. Of these 42, one shareholder is now deceased, two disclosed an interest of their children in the shares, one parent responded on behalf of a child and the remainder did not disclose any interest of any other person in their shares.

We can also confirm that we are chasing responses from the five remaining shareholders and are taking legal advice as to what action, if any, to take."

There was much glee and anticipation of fireworks when the initial statement mentioned that the board were seeking legal advice and we ourselves were accused of trying to cover up something dramatic. We preferred to wait until we knew precisely what the legal advice was being sought for. Now we know; not much at all as it turns out.  However, it is necessary to examine what we know of this process.

Let's remind ourselves first of all that letters were sent to those holding ten or more shares. Ironically, we are pretty certain that some of those throwing most mud will themselves be in control of a few hundred of the shares in question but we digress. The majority have responded appropriately  - in which case, the matter is essentially closed in relation to them. Five people have not responded, so there are now anything between 50 and 500 shares "unaccounted for". We don't know the precise figures. 

Let us assume for the sake if argument that five hundred shares are now in question (logic dictates it will be far less than that but, anyway..) it would be wrong to presume that these shares are actually used to vote or would be used to vote in a way that supports the club's desire to move to a new stadium. One could inspect the documents as laid out for scrutiny by the CPO board to determine some facts but we would support the board's very firm warning on harassment, abuse and contraventions of data protection (how very sad that such a bleak warning had to be issued). 

We hope the board are able to track down the five individuals and get an answer from them. It would also be helpful to know how many shares are held by these people. The most dramatic outcome will be the removal of voting rights for 500 shares, which isn't, actually that dramatic when you consider the SayNo mantra about 2500 "dodgy" shares. But such action is costly and fraught with dangers.

We would expect the cost of this exercise to have been high and it might have been worth it if we felt it would finally close the matter. We find it bewildering that those who insist on such processes are those who both complain about how much the board spend on legal fees and at the same time attack the board for their efforts to raise funds. A cruel and perverse irony for sure. 

They also object to the selling of more shares - and we have a pretty good idea why - but raising funds and selling more shares is precisely what the board must focus on now. It is difficult to fathom why some people would pursue agendas that could lead inexorably to one outcome; the demolishing of CPO by the club. If they so fervently believe that the club have been trying to influence the work and process of the company, why on earth do they insist on creating the conditions where the club could in fact simply penalise it for not paying its dues?

As we said, it would be nice to think that this exercise will end, once and for all, the toxic share topic but it is inevitable that new theories will emerge. But we will hope nevertheless.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

CPO Fundraising Dinner

We have been sent the following.  We are happy to help promote the event. CPO needs money.

A Celebration of Chelsea's 2012
Champions League Triumph 6.30pm for dinner @7.30pm
17th May, 2013 Harris Suite, Stamford Bridge

One year on, come and relive all the thrills of our magnificent 2011/12 UEFA Champions League Campaign at a fundraising event for Chelsea Pitch Owners plc

Join the reunion dinner at the Harris Suite, Stamford Bridge on 17th May, 2013 in the
company of special guests, including a question and answer session with our skipper on that glorious night in Munich FRANK LAMPARD

Hear personal recollections and enjoy video replays of the glorious victories over Valencia, Napoli and Benfica, that unforgettable epic with Barcelona and, of course, the incredible final in Bayern's own back yard.


Tables for 10 @ £1,100.00 (inc VAT) per table
Includes a three-course meal and one CPO Share per table,
to be raffled during the evening

To book your table email or call 020 8309 2705

Saturday 6 April 2013

Just SayNo.

It is hard to work out just where our old friends at SayNoCPO fit in these days. Reduced to a rump of about two and a half people (the rest have decamped to establish the Chelsea Supporters Trust for a bit of mainstream politicking) their cheerleader in chief drones on in his typically inflammatory, pub-lawyer style on CFCNet this month. This time it is in relation to the letters that were sent to multiple shareholders and no doubt they are beginning to realise it might not produce the results they want. Here is a selection of phrases pressed into action;

"Weeding out the fraudsters"
"Obvious deception in progress" 
"CFC's web team has been trying to meddle with the facts again"

...and so on. It's like a wet weekend in a Pyongyang press office.

Whilst everybody else appears to be trying to move forward, SayNo want to keep us all mired in the share issue. They even want to have access to Electoral Reform records to see how people voted! We find all this deeply sinister; reveal an individual - any individual- to have voted in favour of something SayNo don't like and use it to smear them in some perverse way. 

Almost everybody else has realised that selling more shares to fans is the way ahead.

Surprisingly, SayNo don't seem to support the efforts to raise much needed funds either;

"We must also seriously doubt if anyone will be willing to help a Chairman raise funds for CPO as he now pleads, when he has done so little during his 17 months at the helm to cleanse the company of fraudsters and profiteers?"

This strikes us as a little spiteful and counter-productive. Frankham has said he would try to get things going on the fundraising front and as far as we know, three meetings have been called but not all have been well attended. Either people want to support the idea or they don't. The fact is that the cub require CPO to pay back the loan - it is that simple - and if they don't, the club could fold CPO.

And here is a thing; a very significant number of people are beginning to think that this may well be the best thing to happen. We ourselves frequently receive emails to this effect. 

With EC in all sorts of trouble (the latest being a serious doubt over TfL's readiness to release their land to CapCo) and with all eyes on the bullish, tries-so-very-hard UK boss of the BPS development company, to see if he can deliver his bold claims for his wary Malaysian bosses,  it is essential that CFC is not hamstrung. If CPO continues to be used as a device for those wishing to attack and denigrate, we can only imagine that the club will see benefits in CPO failing to pay off the debt. As such, we would suggest everybody does what they can to help the fundraising effort.

Chelsea Football Club is trying to get a billion pound project off the ground and we can hardly expect them to be too tolerant. We suspect for PR's sake that the club will be reluctant to crush CPO but they won't take much persuading should all of this nonsense continue and the board fail to meet financial obligations. That is undoubtedly the reality we face as shareholders.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

The Exhibition industry is unhappy.....

With all the furore over the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates, one aspect of the Earls Court development that is often overlooked is the way in which the exhibition industry is furious about the loss of the space. Chelsea's submissions to LBHF have made clear mention of a stadium that would incorporate exhibition facilities. So we thought we would ask the industry for their view. Karim Halwagi, CEO of  the Association of Event Organisers answered some questions;

What are your views on the loss of EC as an exhibition facility?

The removal of Earl's Court (with absolutely no discussion or even consideration about a replacement) would cripple the industry and relegate London and the UK far down the rank of hosts for international trading fairs and events. Already, major companies have chosen to expand by holding shows abroad (in Germany) since there is not enough suitable venue stock in London and the UK.

Are you aware of the ideas and  plans CFC have as part of a stadium development and whether they would meet the needs of the exhibition industry?


I have not been able to get specifics for the proposal but I was made aware of the concept. If there was any indication that this could be viable I would be very interested for the AEO to work with CFC in developing the idea to ensure that it could work with and enjoy the support from the UK Exhibition & Events Industry.

What has been the CapCo, council and/or the Mayor of London's response to your representations regarding the damage to the UK exhibition industry?


In general our representations have been ignored or dealt with as a matter of process. We have noted the complete disregard for our industry – an industry that has a Net Annual Expenditure of £11 Billion in the UK and a Gross Value Added of £5.6 Billion – in that all issues point East. The Mayor seems to believe that any venue stock issues can be dealt with by ExCeL. The Mayor and City Hall seem to think that we can compete as a 'World City' where other countries are EXPANDING their venue capacity. The removal of one of the most internationally well-known and popular event venues sends a disastrous message around the world. Other major cities are expanding their venue stock as they fully understand the economic benefits of the industry, whilst the UK and London are reducing. The demolition of Earl's Court will simply diminish the status of this country and its capital in the eyes of the rest of the world.


In your estimation, how much in monetary terms might the loss of EC mean to British industry and the UK economy?

I wish I could provide definitive figures, but I can safely say that the monetary effect of the demolition of Earls Court will be in the £100's Millions with a view to direct, indirect and induced impact


So there you go.

In other news, we heard that TfL were considering not giving over the land at Lillie Bridge to the development. That would have been awkward......

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Council accused of a "whitewash"

The Evening Standard have reported that LBHF are being accused of a whitewash over their investigation into wrongdoing by officers over the Earls Court consultation. By abandoning the Deloitte's investigation at phase one, before talking to residents, the prosecution has effectively refused to take evidence from the alleged victims.
As you can imagine, the residents of the two threatened estates are not pleased. Many of them have written and submitted evidence in the past of conversations with officers and councillors who they say made explicit offers in return for support for the scheme.

Monday 11 February 2013

Another club stooge!

We hadn't intended to comment on the new Chelsea Supporters Trust.  As an organisation they appear to be following the standard Supporters Trust model and seem well intentioned, committed and eager to be truly representative of fans from all sections of the support. Time will tell how this pans out and what sort of organisation emerges. 

However, we have to confess to some surprise (and not just for the obvious reasons, either) at a piece on CFCnet yesterday which addressed the existence of this new group. It has raised all manner of suspicions. We quote the relevant section below - the emphases are ours;

"Finally, CFCnet was asked about Chelsea Supporters' Trust, who had a well-publicised meeting after the Wigan game.  We want it put on public record that we have nothing against this new organisation.  However, we are not in a position to either endorse it or give it any publicity until we are clear about their stance on CPO.

Simply put, any organisation claiming to represent fans' interests must back either SaynoCPO or Campaign55's overall stance(s).  Failure to do that, in our view, is either a demonstration of incompetence or, even worse, the mark of the hidden hand of the Club manoeuvring behind the scenes.  We fear the latter.  For that reason we are holding judgement on the new Chelsea Supporters' Trust until we know their stance on CPO."

It is difficult to know where to begin when considering this statement.  The breathtaking arrogance of two small and unrepresentative minority groups dictating to a new fans organisation who they should back? The demonstration, yet again, that these people believe that anybody who disagrees with them in any way is an enemy, who is created by and/or in thrall to Chelsea FC? The inherent menace in the statement? Take your pick.  

We already know that there is, for example, an absolute assumption that all votes cast at AGMs and EGMs have been cast by club stooges and "dodgy shares" despite evidence to the contrary. But we have to confess to some real surprise that anybody would actually make this accusation against CST on a public website and it causes us, against our original instinct, to ask some questions. Does the author officially speak for SayNoCPO or Campaign 55? Do Campaign 55 and SayNoCPO agree with the author's comments? Are people involved with Campaign 55 or SayNoCPO associated or involved with the new CST? (we have noted the individuals involved so far of course). If they are, then the infant Trust is in danger of imploding with internecine fighting before it has even stood on its feet and fans with a more open view, who want to be part of the new trust, should demand to know what those behind it are drawing them in to. Indeed, is the Trust just a new face of SayNoCPO/Campaign 55 and the piece referred to above just a clumsy feint to put us everybody off the scent? We will be watching very closely whatever the truth and we genuinely make no assumptions at this stage; it would be unfair to do so but the comments from CFCnet have set alarm bells ringing....

We do, though,  have sympathy with CST for having joined the ranks of those accused of being a club stooge. We would like to say it is a select group but unfortunately there appear to be many of us.  There is no question that a great deal of work has gone into the inauguration of the Trust and it must be depressing to see fellow fans condemning them in such terms already. 

We encourage them in their aim of a constructive relationship with the club. It would appear there is an appetite for such a group if their launch meeting is anything to go by and so we must take them at face value and wish them the best of luck. We suspect they are going to need it.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Some updates on the battle of Earls Court

We have come into possession of a copy of the WKGG residents' latest newsletter in which they give details of a new petition they have going.  We also link to another blog post on the matter by Dave Hill of The Guardian.  

It is our belief that CFC continue to discuss EC with the owners of the site, despite protestations by the council and the apparent "shoulder to shoulder" stance between CapCo and LBHF during the latest rounds of the increasingly acrimonious battle. You may have been perplexed recently by the strident and apparently unprompted statement from LBHF on the impossibility of a stadium at the site (to the effect "neither we nor the developer wants a stadium"etc.) You may have wondered what drew this outburst. So did we.... 

However, words of caution; things continue to be weighted against the club but it hasn't given up yet....


Extract from WKGG newsletter below. We neither endorse nor vouch for the accuracy of their information, nor the charges and accusations contained in the extract.

"Petition to the Government

There has been much reporting of exciting developments in our campaign, including in the Guardian and on ITV news, which you can read and watch on the media coverage page of our website detailed below.

In March, the Secretary of State will decide whether to allow the Council to sell our homes to EC Properties LP, a firm whose sole investment is £2 from its Limited Partner registered in the tax-haven of Jersey, and which is fabricated to funnel hundreds of millions of pounds in profits to CapCo.

We shall petition the Government not to allow this scheme because we are against demolition, it would harm vulnerable neighbours, destroy 761 decent homes, is criminal, and would undermine the economy.

The Prime Minister promised power to the people and freedom for communities to determine their future. We shall ask the Government to give us the vote so we can decide whether our homes should be sold off, and request it fulfils its undertaking to implement the law that would liberate the local community to take ownership of our neighbourhood. We are the People's Estates, and we shall not be moved!"

Dave Hill's blog.