Bates vote could split supporters

 
David Hellier
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KEN BATES, the controversial entrepreneur who owned Chelsea Football Club for 21 years before selling out to Roman Abramovich, may yet come back to haunt his successor who fell out with him several months after the takeover.

Bates is planning to vote against the Russian’s offer to buy out Chelsea Pitch Owners, the co-operative that was set up during his reign at the club to protect it from property speculators.

Fans will have mixed feelings about his support. On the one hand, those who want the club to stay at Stamford Bridge at all costs will welcome backing from wherever it comes.

But, if there were a popularity contest between Bates and Abramovich, the Russian, who has poured hundreds of millions of his own money into the club, in stark contrast to Bates, would surely come out on top in fans’ affections.

If Bates really did want to help the club stay at Stamford Bridge, he would offer to be a willing seller of his penthouse flat at the south end of the stadium.

His ownership of this is one of the obstacles to a redevelopment of the south stand that could add thousands to the capacity at Stamford Bridge – and in the process help keep the club there.