I tend to be a football purist, so that even when a new, vital and potentially lucrative stadium construction deal is announced for a storied club, part of me dies a little. This happened with Arsenal’s inevitable exit from Highbury Stadium for the Emirates, and even with the construction of the long overdue and by all accounts wildly successful all-seater Juventus Stadium, what should be the benchmark for other Serie A clubs.
Today however, I find myself unable to find a core objection to Chelsea’s announcement they’ve put in a bid for the Battersea Power Station. Constructed in 1939 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott—the same man who invented the iconic red telephone box—it generated electricity until 1983. Since then it’s been largely unused, except to project Nike shoes on from time to time.
Here is an iconic building in the heart of London on the south bank of the Thames (it really brings to mind Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman for obvious reasons) which already seems to have the dimensions of a football ground, which could be brought back to glorious life as CFC supporters wave those little plastic blue and white checker flags.
There are several major caveats. First, we’ll have to see if CFC’s bid is successful, and whether they receive approval from the City of London for stadium construction. There is also the thorny issue of the group that owns Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea Pitch Owners plc, a freehold in which no one shareholder can hold more than 100 votes. They also hold the rights to the name Chelsea Football Club, which means Chelsea would require their approval to move the club in order to keep the name.
As the BBC reports, while the CPO believes Chelsea haven’t fully explored the possibility of further developing the existing site at Stamford Bridge, either Battersea or Earls Court remain their first two choices for alternative sites. So this is one instance where fan input has led to a pretty cool solution which doesn’t necessitate the construction of some gaudy, cookie-cutter mess out in Wimbledon.
Not that the current Stamford Bridge is a gorgeous icon of a stadium; it resembles a late 1980s condo development. Not that any of this will happen…