134MC: ‘Stamford Bridge set for £500M redevelopment’.
In 2003, Roman Abramovich completed a £140million takeover of Chelsea football club. The Russian multi-billionaire fast eradicated the club’s near-crippling debt, which stood at as much as £80million. Abramovich’s investments set Chelsea on their way to the most successful period in their history. After overseeing the winning of 11 pieces of silverware, including the coveted Champions League for the first time in the club’s history, Abramovich appears to be just getting started.
As the London Evening Standard reported earlier this year, Stamford Bridge, which has stood in the same place since 1877, is set for a £500million revamp. The stadium will see a capacity increase of 18,000, drawing level with Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, which can hold up to 60,000.
On a footballing level, Chelsea have been on par with the biggest club sides in Europe over the past 13 years — but Stamford Bridge’s modest 42,000 capacity has always seen us trailing our competitive counterparts. The redevelopment of the Bridge will see us reaffirm our position as a so-called super-club.
In addition to the increase in capacity, Nike will also be Chelsea’s kit sponsor as of the 2017/18 campaign. The BBC reported that the deal is worth a staggering £900million over a 15-year period. That’s double the £30million-a-year deal that the club’s hierarchy had previously negotiated with Adidas. The increase in revenue will give manager Antonio Conte more freedom in the transfer market as he looks to ready his squad for life in the Champions League. Despite the Blues’ success in the Premier League this term, at the time of writing they sit seven points clear of the chasing pack, competing in Europe will prove to be a tough task for their star-studded squad. You only have to look at some of the best sides in the club’s history, notably under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho, twice, and Carlo Ancelotti — neither time did either manager taste success in the Champions League. Conte will be looking to outdo his predecessors and carve his name into the Chelsea hall-of-fame, and he will need to make considerable summer investments if he is to do so.
Chelsea football club is growing like a wildfire, but is doing so without sacrificing it’s identity. You only have to look across the Thames to bitter rivals West Ham. Since leaving Upton Park, a stadium with so much history and soul, and moving to the London Stadium, which is yet to form any sort of identity; the Hammers look lost. Chelsea appear determined to not suffer the same fate, and will remain at the same home they have played their football at for 111 years.
Stamford Bridge has been the heart and soul of the club during triumphs in 29 major competitions, and with the club undoubtedly heading in the right direction, Chelsea will likely add plenty more pieces of silverware to that tally in the coming years.
It is not only on a commercial level where things are looking positive for Chelsea. Despite the successes that Abramovich’s ownership has brought, he has still been unable to bridge the gap between the academy and the first-team squad — that may well be about to change. Conte has shown willingness to use our academy products at every opportunity this campaign. Ola Aina, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah have all been given opportunities to impress in domestic cup competitions, with the latter often being trusted to come on and close-out games. There can be no doubting the talent and potential of the club’s youngsters, it is merely a matter of giving them a chance. Chelsea’s youth team have been victorious in five of the last seven FA Youth Cups, including each of the last three. They have also won the UEFA Youth League two seasons on the trot.
The stadium redevelopment, considerable commercial growth, and noticeable steps forward on the field all point to one positive conclusion — Chelsea football club is going places.