Chelsea have announced plans that could see Stamford Bridge expanded to accommodate 60,000 supporters after previously claiming that such a move would have ‘little chance of acceptability’ by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

After failing with attempts to reclaim the freehold of their famous 109-year home and with options at Battersea Power Station and elsewhere appearing unfeasible, Chelsea are now looking at alternative plans to expand their SW6 ground.

The study, commissioned by owner Roman Abramovich, will look at options that could help the club reach a capacity of 60,000 that would help Chelsea meet their Financial Fair Play guidelines.

The club had been accused by shareholders in Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) – the fan-led company which owns the land beneath Stamford Bridge – of not fully exploring the possibility of staying put before attempting to buy back the stadium freehold in October 2011.

That was seen as a precursor to a move to a new 60,000-seater ground, something Chelsea are unable to do before convincing CPO to sell up – and Abramovich and Chelsea now seem to have made a significant u-turn.

Stamford Bridge’s capacity currently sits at 41,837 and the Blues have previously explored the possibility of moving to nearby Battersea power station and Earls Court, options which are no longer there.

By potentially utilising decking over the railway lines to the east and north of the ground Chelsea believe they could get around the obstacles associated with expansion on their relatively small West London site.

Chelsea have indicated that they will keep supporters informed with the progress of their study, which will begin with consolation of local stakeholders, including community and residents’ groups.

A potential expansion would help Chelsea to boost their matchday revenue. Stamford Bridge is currently the Premier League’s eighth largest ground. A 60,000 capacity would improve that ranking to third.

If Chelsea’s study proves successful, the new plans with decking over the District line railway that runs alongside Stamford Bridge could lead to reduced pedestrian traffic on Fulham Road and nearby streets on matchdays.

Chelsea’s Statement In Full

A study of the area from Fulham Broadway town centre to Stamford Bridge and beyond has been commissioned by Chelsea Football Club’s owner Roman Abramovich.

This study will review the potential for improvements to publicly-owned areas along Fulham Road and the area around the football ground, including the possibility of decking over the railway lines to the east and north of the ground. This could create landscaped public walkways and cycleways, while also reducing pedestrian traffic on Fulham Road and nearby streets on matchdays.

The study will also assess the feasibility of an expansion of the stadium within the existing historic site boundaries, potentially to enlarge its capacity, enhance its facilities and improve the movement of people and vehicles on match and non-matchdays.

As a first step, a consultation will take place with local stakeholders, including community and residents’ groups, for opinions on the existing conditions in the area.

The consultation will not concern itself with any design or details of a redevelopment on the stadium site. Instead it will ask about the surrounding publicly-owned areas and in particular the civic infrastructure necessary to ensure a successful and feasible redevelopment.

We will keep our supporters informed as the study progresses.

See the original story here.

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