Chelsea for sale? Roman Abramovich puts £1bn Stamford Bridge plans on hold

BY: www.theweek.co.uk
Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich

Today’s news will no doubt give Chelsea supporters “the blues” after it was announced that owner Roman Abramovich is putting the club’s £1bn stadium plans on hold.

The expansion of Stamford Bridge to a 60,000-seat capacity was Abramovich’s master plan for the west London club.

But after his UK visa expired the BBC reports that the Russian is “unwilling to invest in a major project in a country where he is not allowed [to] work”.

Abramovich’s “Home Office stand-off” has left Chelsea in “limbo”, according to The Daily Telegraph, and he has reportedly withdrawn his UK investor visa application “in retaliation to the hardline attitude of the Home Office”.

In a statement, the club said that the decision to delay the Stamford Bridge upgrade was because of the “current unfavourable investment climate”.

The statement read: “Chelsea Football Club announces that it has put its new stadium project on hold. No further pre-construction design and planning work will occur. The club does not have a time frame set for reconsideration of its decision. The decision was made due to the current unfavourable investment climate.”

Could Abramovich walk away from Chelsea?

The uncertainty at Stamford Bridge has forced Chelsea to deny that Abramovich could sell the Premier League club.

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The Times reports that Chelsea insists Abramovich “remained committed to the club” despite axing the plans for the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge.

But in another article, the Times adds that Abramovich would in fact “want £1.17bn back if he sells Chelsea”. Since taking over ownership in 2003 he has invested more than £1bn in Chelsea and “continues to support them financially”. The Sun also quotes the £1.17bn figure it would take to buy Chelsea from Abramovich.

Since becoming an Israeli citizen earlier this week, Abramovich can “freely travel” to the UK on his new passport and the Independent says the day-to-day situation at Chelsea is unchanged and it’s “business as usual”. But according to the Jerusalem Post yesterday he has withdrawn his application for an investor visa in the UK.