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Chelsea to investigate Stamford Bridge expansion

ESPN staff
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Chelsea could build over railway lines to the east and north of their Stamford Bridge home © Getty Images
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Chelsea have commissioned a study to review the potential of expanding Stamford Bridge as owner Roman Abramovich looks to have given up hope of relocating the club to a new stadium.

Abramovich was keen to rehouse Chelsea, who have played at their current home since their formation 109 years ago, in a bid to increase capacity and the club had pursued Battersea Power Station and Earls Court as potential, nearby locations.

Those options have since fallen through and Abramovich has now turned his attention to boosting Stamford Bridge towards a capacity of 55,000, up from the current 41,837.

UEFA's introduction of Financial Fair Play rules has made expansion of their stadium a crucial issue for Chelsea, who risk falling behind their domestic and European rivals unless they can boost match-day revenues.

In a statement, Chelsea said developments could include "decking over the railway lines to the east and north of the ground" to create walkways and cycle paths to reduce congestion on nearby streets.

"The study will assess the feasibility of an expansion of the stadium within the existing historic site boundaries, potentially to enlarge its capacity, enhance its facilities and improve the movement of people and vehicles on match and non-matchdays," the club said.

"The consultation will not concern itself with any design or details of a redevelopment on the stadium site. Instead it will ask about the surrounding publicly-owned areas and in particular the civic infrastructure necessary to ensure a successful and feasible redevelopment."

Stamford Bridge is not owned by Abramovich, instead belonging to a supporter-run company Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO). Abramovich has had previous attempts to buy the stadium thwarted by CPO, who fear any purchase by the Russian will be a precursor to a move away from the area.

Chelsea have only the eighth biggest stadium in the Premier League, falling behind non-Champions League clubs such as Sunderland and Aston Villa. The league's biggest stadium is Manchester United's Old Trafford, which can house almost 76,000 fans.

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