Blues chairman Bruce Buck revealed that the club had offered to buy out the 15,000 shares owned by fans in a group called the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO).
The CPO bought the shares in the pitch and the stands at Stamford Bridge in 1993 when then-owner Ken Bates was trying to stave off the threat from property developers in the plush area of south-west London.
Although Chelsea were keen to stress that they had not yet decided whether they should leave Stamford Bridge, chairman Bruce Buck said his hopes of renovating the stadium were “doubtful” after several years spent looking into its feasibility. The club are looking at other sites in Battersea and Earls Court and have promised the CPO members that if they agree to sell their shares, the club will not move more than three miles away from their current home before 2020.
CPO members will vote on October 27 whether they intend to sell their shares to club owner Roman Abramovich, but there was mounting concern about any potential move from Stamford Bridge. Fans forums were awash with comments criticising the plan, and although some agreed a change of home would be beneficial, a Facebook page called Save the Bridge was set up where supporters aired their concerns.
Chelsea insist it is entirely up to the CPO members to decide whether they want to sell their shares. Buck revealed that if the CPO do decide to sell, their shareholders will receive priority for season tickets and will have their names written on a “walk of honour” at any new stadium.