Chelsea could buy Earls Court site for stadium

CHELSEA football club could move to a new stadium at a London Underground depot less than a mile from their current Stamford Bridge home, it emerged yesterday.

The Lillie Bridge site, sandwiched between the Earls Court Two exhibition centre and the A4 road, had been expected to be sold to developer Capital and Counties (Capco) which is masterminding a development plan for the wider area.

But Transport for London (TfL) says it is now intending to sell the site on the open market to the highest bidder, according to the Mail on Sunday.

This would favour Chelsea’s wealthy owner Roman Abramovich, whose desire to build a new stadium in central London is thought to go beyond any concerns about the financial return.

A spokesman for TfL yesterday confirmed that while it “continues to seek to reach an agreement” to land around the exhibition centre to Capco, the freehold to the depot was a separate matter.

“We are also assessing how we might take forward the development of Lillie Bridge Depot,” Tfl said. “Any such development will be in line with the agreed masterplan.”

Last year Abramovich failed in an attempt to move the club across the river to a new stadium built within the shell of Battersea Power Station after being outbid by a Malaysian consortium.

He also has to contend with a fans group known as the Chelsea Pitch Owners, which owns the club’s name and the freehold to Stamford Bridge. As a result the club cannot move grounds and keep its name without the approval of its members.

Chelsea declined to comment on the potential move.