Stamford Bridge is iconic and it will dominate the club’s annals for many years to come but it has had its day. Nowadays, elite European sides have the best facilities in the industry and Chelsea must move with the times.
Stamford Bridge has been the home of Chelsea Football Club for well over a century but the Blues will be moving to a new stadium in the coming years. Chelsea have outgrown their 44,000 seater venue and the development will see the defending Premier League champions strutting their stuff in front of around 60,000 spectators. Of course, the stadium won’t be ready for another three or four years but Blues fans will be preparing for an emotional farewell.
Because when it comes down to it, a move away from Stamford Bridge will affect Chelsea’s older fans. In recent years, the club have been very successful but many supporters will remember the barren spells and close relegation scraps. No matter how old you are or when you started supporting the Blues, something at Stamford Bridge will stick with you for the rest of your life. You only need to look at how West Ham and Tottenham fans reacted when they left their respective grounds...
Financially, a move to a bigger football arena makes complete sense. Chelsea will have no problems when it comes to selling tickets and an increased season ticket holder presence should help to bolster the atmosphere. At times, the Stamford Bridge crowd can go quiet but an additional 5,000 hardcore fans should ensure a positive vibe around the ground – and the Blues could take a leaf out of Manchester United’s book by introducing a specific “singing section” for some supporters.
In terms of cost, the stadium won’t be cheap but Chelsea deserve a venue that is worthy of England’s top flight. Stamford Bridge is iconic and it will dominate the club’s annals for many years to come but it has had its day. Nowadays, elite European sides have the best facilities in the industry and Chelsea must move with the times. According to numerous reports, the redevelopment could cost £500 million and that is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things, especially if the new arena lasts anywhere near as long as The Bridge.
Off-field success is important, of course, but Chelsea’s efforts on the pitch will determine how successful their new venue is. If the Blues, priced at 3/1 to retain the title in Premier League betting markets ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, continue to compete for domestic and European silverware, there will be a surplus of demand for tickets. If not, then Chelsea may struggle to sell out week in, week out; depending on how many new season ticket holders there are.
You are always going to have fans against change; it is human nature to be scared of moving on and mixing things up. But this is the right time for Chelsea Football Club to take the next step. West Ham’s struggles since moving to London Stadium may put some Blues supporters off this relocation but it shouldn’t. Abramovich has got Chelsea in a stable financial position and the Blues will be confident of success, both on and off the pitch, for the next decade.