Chelsea are not in talks to purchase the former Earls Court Exhibition Centre site for a potential relocation from Stamford Bridge, according to the company overseeing the multi-billion pound redevelopment project.
Earls Court Development Company (ECDC) published the updated version of their masterplan for the 40-acre site in southwest London on Wednesday, which is to include the construction of 4000 new homes, extensive retail and office space, three large cultural and performance venues and an urban park.
The land, which has been largely derelict since Earls Court Exhibition Centre was demolished in 2014, has frequently been touted as the most attractive alternative stadium site if Chelsea were ever to leave Stamford Bridge. In March, the ECDC publicly denied reports suggesting the Premier League club’s owners, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, could purchase it.
The ECDC has reiterated its stance as it presses ahead with the project. “We categorically deny that there are any talks taking place with Chelsea FC about a stadium relocation to the Earls Court site,” an ECDC statement read. “After years of consultation with the local community, we have updated our masterplan proposals and today release updated plans.
“Our scheme will deliver 4,000 homes, space for 12,000 jobs, acres of public space and cultural venues, restaurants and community facilities.
“There is no football stadium in the Earls Court masterplan.”
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ECDC plans to submit a hybrid planning application to Hammersmith and Fulham Council and Kensington and Chelsea Council in the middle of 2024. Barring any delays the first phase of construction is slated to begin in 2026, with work on the vast redevelopment project expected to stretch into the 2040s.
Boehly and Clearlake are still understood to be assessing their stadium redevelopment options and have not committed to building a new stadium at Stamford Bridge despite finalising a land deal to purchase the 1.2-acre Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions site adjacent to the ground from Stoll Veterans Housing Charity last month.
That deal expands the footprint of Stamford Bridge for any potential redevelopment but Chelsea are not expected to take possession of the land until the end of 2025 at the earliest and building a new, bigger stadium on the current 11.9-acre site is fraught with difficulty. It would also require the first team to play home matches elsewhere for several years.
Any attempt to permanently relocate Chelsea from Stamford Bridge to an alternative site would need to be approved by Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO), who own the freehold to the land on which the current stadium sits as well as the name ‘Chelsea Football Club’, and would likely meet significant fan resistance.
(Photo: Earls Court Development Company)