Chelsea submit plans for 60,000-seater stadium

LONDON: Premier League champions Chelsea have submitted a planning application to re-develop their Stamford Bridge ground into a new 60,000-seater stadium, the club said on Tuesday.

The current ground, which dates back to 1877 and has been home to the west London club since 1905, holds only 41,600.

"A planning application for a new stadium at Stamford Bridge with an expanded seating capacity has been submitted," the club said on their website.

"This follows a successful consultation process during which we received very helpful feedback."

Billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich has prioritised increasing the club's match-day revenue since taking over in 2003, but expanding Stamford Bridge, which is hemmed in by railway lines and the busy Fulham Road, has proved problematic.

The club submitted plans for a new stadium at the iconic Battersea Power station alongside the River Thames but they were thrown out in 2012.

Abramovich was also keen on building a new stadium at the historic Earl's Court exhibition centre while moving out of the immediate area has also been considered.

Finding a solution to relatively small home attendances has become all the more pressing with Chelsea's London rivals either already playing in bigger stadiums or soon to be.

Arsenal moved out of their Highbury home and into the 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium in 2006, while Tottenham Hotspur are building a new 60,000-seat arena adjacent to their White Hart Lane ground.

West Ham United are moving to the Olympic Stadium next season.

The London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham confirmed that Chelsea had submitted plans to re-develop Stamford Bridge.

"The council has received a full planning application to build a new football stadium within Stamford Bridge Grounds," it said in a statement on its website.

"The application comprises the demolition of the existing football stadium which has a capacity of 41,600 seats and other buildings within the ground, and the construction of a new larger football stadium with a 60,000 seat capacity.

"Other features include ancillary stadium-related uses including a club shop and museum, plus a separate restaurant/cafe use."

Chelsea said there were a lot of hurdles to clear before any work on a new stadium could begin.

"The planning process will last beyond the end of the season; if the application is granted planning permission there will still be a lot of work to do before redevelopment can start, including obtaining various other consents."