European champions Chelsea
dismissed an offer by the local council to discuss expanding
their Stamford Bridge stadium as "empty rhetoric" on Friday, a
day after a proposed move to a new home fell through.
The Premier League club's hopes of building a new
60,000-seater site at London's iconic Battersea Power Station
suffered a blow on Thursday when a rival Malaysian consortium
was named as preferred bidder to redevelop the site.
The local council responded by pledging its support to help
keep Chelsea at the home they have had since being founded in
"The door is open and the council is again ready to sit down
and discuss how Stamford Bridge can be appropriately upgraded so
that it is fit for one of Europe's leading football clubs," said
Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader Nicholas Botterill.
However Chelsea, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich,
dismissed the council statement as offering no practical
"It appears to be the same empty rhetoric we have heard
before. Nothing new," a club executive said.
Stamford Bridge has a capacity of just under 42,000 - small
by comparison with many of Chelsea's European rivals.
That capacity is reduced even further for safety reasons
when the club play major Champions League matches because the
number of television broadcast trucks restricts access to the
Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay told Reuters last month
that the club's preferred option was to stay and expand the
stadium but that did not appear economically viable and would be
complicated by planning issues.
A joint bid by Malaysia's Sp Setia Bhd and the property arm
of Sime Darby Bhd was named as preferred bidder on Thursday to
develop the derelict Battersea site on the banks of the river
Thames in a 400 million-pounds deal.
Chelsea appear to be hoping the Malaysians get cold feet
over the next month when they have a chance to assess the risks
associated with the deal and decide whether to proceed.
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