Chelsea’s mooted plan to shift grounds to a new stadium development at the iconic Battersea Power Station is a bold managerial move that will, if successful, solve a number of the club’s current problems. But that is a massive “IF”.
The facts of Chelsea’s current situation make the plan seem pretty sensible: they are one of England’s most successful clubs of recent years yet, with a just-over 42,000-seat current home at Stamford Bridge, their ground is only the seventh biggest in the premier league, with a capacity far below that of Manchester United’s 76,000-strong Old Trafford. The Battersea plan includes a 60,000-seater ground, solving the capacity issue – and as Chelsea have already placed a bid, we can only assume it would clear up some financial problems too.
Even though developing the Bridge facilities is not a financial or practical reality, the fan-owned company that owns the stadium’s freehold – Chelsea Pitch Owners – is not happy with a potential move. Placating those fans is a huge obstacle for the Blues, and Chelsea Pitch Owners could block the site’s sale at a moment’s notice. The company is understandably concerned about the implications of any move away from their current manor and into a big-box stadium.
If artists’ impressions drawn up by staff of the Mirror are to be believed – another massive “IF” – then the stadium would be inside the aging brick hulk, instantly giving Chelsea one of the most spectacular stadiums in the world. Such a ground would be steeped in history before a ball is even kicked, and could help to alleviate some fan fears that the team intends to relocate to a soulless McStadium such as those in Leicester and Derby. The Battersea site is less than three miles from Stamford Bridge and falls well within the team’s catchment area.
But the main management hurdle – and this one is huge – is that of the site itself. Over the past 10 years or so, the power station site has been the focus of a seemingly endless list of mooted regeneration plans that have all fallen flat, usually because of the enormous amounts of costly remediation and preservation that its steep, brick walls require. So if the Chelsea plan is realised, it would have to climb those previously insurmountable logistical hurdles, on top of getting the fans on side.
If they can pull it off it will be a management masterstroke. IF.
Management ups and downs
As well as returning the Spanish title to the Bernabeu for the first time since 2007 to 2008, the Special One has spoken of his shrewdest managerial decision: turning down the England job in 2007. His gain was England’s loss – as the best man manager in the game, Mourhino could well have been the one to elevate the team’s self-belief and bring some success.
If Ronnie O’Sullivan goes ahead with his plan to quit snooker in response to a 50-week, 27-event tour set to be introduced next year, it’s the sport’s loss, not Ronnie’s. The Rocket has not made it a secret that sometimes he is less than enamoured with his profession, and he has stacks of cash and a young son to keep him busy. If he stops playing far, far fewer people will be watching snooker. They say in sport that no player is bigger than the game. In this case, “they” are probably wrong.