Bridge Banter: Chelsea fans have the Bridge Blues
The idea of the Blues leaving Stamford Bridge gives fans the heebie-jeebies.
The sacred turf has served the club well since 1905 (if you overlook the fact that it has been dug up and replaced umpteen times), and starting over at a new stadium might seem depressing.
But the only alternative to creating a ground at Earls Court, Battersea or White City is to demolish the hotel at the Shed end, and rebuild the south stand to hold 20,000 instead of the current 6,000.
That would bump capacity from 42,000 to 55,000, but wouldn’t address the problem encountered at every European match, when the TV trucks parked at the back of the stadium take up space needed for safe evacuations.
The reason hundreds of seats remain empty on Champions League nights, even if Barcelona visit, is that Fulham Road is the only emergency exit.
So the club has started the tortuous business of buying back the mini plots of land sold to fans in the early 1990s to thwart developers who just wanted Chelsea for its site.
The 12,000 share certificates, many framed and hanging on the walls of fans’ loos, originally cost £100 apiece.
Which is precisely what fans will get back, 18 years later.
The nightmare for Chelsea is that the meeting of pitch holders fixed for October 27 – the day after the Blues’ visit to Goodison Park in the League Cup – might rebel.
A move could have a negative effect (Arsenal haven’t exactly thrived since leaving Highbury) or usher in an exciting new era (Manchester City barely remember Maine Road these days).
The whole thing is likely to split fans down the middle, with many asking if it is really impossible to compete with other big clubs when your ground capacity is smaller.
The present international break means the Blues should be fresh as daisies for the visit of Everton on October 15.
It’s at Stamford Bridge. Enjoy it while it lasts.