Chelsea’s plans to build a new 60,000 seat stadium have taken a major step forward after they were given the go-ahead by the local council. If the club receive the green light from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the £500 million stadium should be completed in time for the 2021/22 season. Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea who has long dreamed of a new stadium, will be covering the costs, which may be partially recouped by selling the naming rights in the future.
“Over the past 12 months we have consulted widely with neighbouring residents, local businesses, statutory authorities and continued to work closely with the council,” a club statement read. “The council’s planning committee considered the application and we are grateful that planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of our historic home.”
The Hammersmith and Fulham council unanimously approved the plans during the meeting, which lasted less than three hours, and Stephen Cowan – the leader of the council – underlined the project’s importance to the country’s economy in the wake of Brexit.
“We are going to get one of the most outstanding football stadiums anywhere. It will be talked about and written about all over the world. In the post-Brexit period, to have such a huge sum of money pour in for what will be a spectacular attraction is good news for the whole UK economy.”
The new stadium has been designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed the Allianz Arena and the Beijing National Stadium. As with many similar projects, transportation and accessibility has been taken into account, and the plans include the proposed construction of a walkway to the ground from the nearby District Line underground station. The new stadium will create 122 new full time and full-time equivalent jobs, and more than 1,000 people will be employed during the construction phase.
The new stadium will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Chelsea’s finances. Last year, matchday revenue at the 41,600 capacity Stamford Bridge was £71 million – once the new 60,000 capacity stadium is completed, they will be able to rival the £101 million matchday revenue generated by Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium (which can seat just over 60,000 supporters).
Once the stadium is ready, home fans will receive the vast majority of the extra seats with an additional 13,374 tickets made available for general admission. No extra tickets will be allocated to away fans; instead, the remaining tickets (around 5,000) will largely be given to hospitality.
There are still a number of other hurdles to overcome before construction on the new stadium can begin, including obtaining final approval by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and they must begin work on the new stadium within three years or the permission given by the local council will expire. However, the Blues are now much closer to being able to break ground on the new project.
Chelsea’s current ground, Stamford Bridge, will be demolished to make way for the new stadium and, consequently, they will have to find a new home for the duration of the works. The most obvious option would be Wembley, but as Tottenham Hotspur are already occupying it during the 2017/18 season (due to the redevelopment of White Hart Lane) this presents a number of logistical issues. Other options include Twickenham, the home of the England rugby side, and a ground share with West Ham United. It may be possible for the Blues to remain at Stamford Bridge while the works are carried out, but this is likely to be highly impractical and also believed to be the most expensive option.