Following recent approval for Chelsea to move forward with its new stadium plans at Stamford Bridge, the English Premier League football club has held renewed talks with cross-city rival West Ham United over a potential ground-share at the London Stadium during redevelopment, according to The Times.
The newspaper reported that Chelsea has expressed it would prefer to play its home matches at Wembley Stadium, but has also been actively seeking alternatives in case it is unable to strike a deal with the English Football Association. The London Stadium, West Ham’s home since the start of the current season, is said to have emerged as the only realistic option.
According to The Times, opposition from the Rugby Football Union and local residents has rendered Twickenham Stadium, home of the English national rugby team, non-viable, while the Emirates Stadium, home to Chelsea’s Premier League rival Arsenal, would not be suitable given the number of events it already stages.
Tottenham Hotspur is also in the process of building a new ground of its own, and The Times reported that the North London club is not willing to entertain the idea of ground-sharing with Chelsea.
The grounds of Crystal Palace, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers have all been considered to be too small, with the latter’s Loftus Road stadium holding just 18,000. Stamford Bridge has a capacity of 41,000.
Chelsea hopes to reach a deal with the FA to move into Wembley for the 2018-19 season, although those plans could be scuppered by Tottenham potentially playing at the 90,000-seat stadium if work on its new ground is still not finished.
London Stadium’s operating company, Vinci Stadium, would make the decision on whether to let Chelsea use its ground, although, as anchor tenants, West Ham would be consulted, which is why discussions between the two clubs have taken place.
Chelsea is set to move forward with its new stadium project after the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, approved the plans for the club to rebuild on the site of its existing Stamford Bridge home ground.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s planning committee approved Chelsea’s proposal unanimously in January.
The project is expected to cost at least £500m (€577m/$614m) and will expand the match-day capacity from 41,600 to 60,000. It could be complete by the 2021-22 season.