Chelsea fans have a unique relationship with their club. Most wish it to remain that way, but there are some who appear not to.
For their entire history, Chelsea have played at Stamford Bridge, which seats a shade over 40,000 spectators, slightly more than their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, against who they drew away in September last year.
Unlike Spurs and apparently every other major club in the world, Chelsea’s ground is owned by its fans. This is thanks to its then Chairman, Ken Bates, who in 1993 saved Stamford Bridge from redevelopment. Chelsea Pitch Owners PLC was incorporated March 11, 1993; shares in the company cost £100, but in spite of its status, it is not listed on the Stock Exchange.
Its latest AGM was held this morning from 11am in the Harris Suite at the stadium, where not a little concern was evident over its future.
Although most shareholders own one share in the company, and a few, more than one, there have been some blocks bought up by apparently shady or at best unknown individuals. This may be entirely sinister or completely innocent, but under company law in England - which can be incredibly complex - when one shareholder acquires 30%, he (or it) must make an offer to all the other shareholders to buy them out. This applies too when a number of shareholders act together – a concert party arrangement. Why should anyone want to acquire a company that is both unlisted and laden with debt? The price of property in Fulham might just have something to do with it. The redevelopment of Stamford Bridge would require the relocation elsewhere of Chelsea F.C., but as things stand, such a team could not use the name. In 2003, nearby Wimbledon F.C. relocated to Milton Keynes 60 miles away, which frankly is silly. Clearly the same sort of thing could not happen to a club the stature of Chelsea, and if the angry voices that were raised at this morning’s AGM have anything to do with it, no such move will ever be on the cards.
Psst, wanna buy a framed share in a Premier League football club? Only £150. Or to you, £120.
[The above article was published originally January 31, 2014. A word of explanation, the original included a photograph of the club and a scan. The photograph was taken by the guy who took me there, or someone with him. The scan was submitted by me. In January 2022, the guy who took me sent me the photograph of Yours Truly with his hero John Terry. Yeah, right! I mentioned the away match with Tottenham because I was there. The only soccer match I have ever been to in my life.]
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