Chelsea are exploring the option of a groundshare move of The Olympic Stadium with West Ham during the three year period that their new stadium is being built.
The defending Premier League champions will need to find a new home from 2017 as the club look to redevelop Stamford Bridge into a 60,000 seater stadium. The West London club had originally explored the possibility of building a new ground at a number of locations, including Earls Court and Battersea Power Station, before eventually deciding on a £600 million refurbishment of the ground that they’ve called home since 1905.
The scale of the project means that they won’t be able to continue using the ground after next season, meaning that they’re looking for somewhere else to play their home games for the three years during which construction will take place. A £20 million a year deal has reportedly been agreed for the Blues to use Wembley Stadium during that time, but the club want to keep their options open.
That has led them to have talks with the London Legacy Development Corporation, the business that owns and operates The Olympic Stadium. There’s also belief within Stamford Bridge that Twickenham could also be a potential location for their home games during the redevelopment phase.
West Ham have agreed a deal to call The Olympic Stadium their home from next season, having played their final game at The Boleyn Ground against Manchester United earlier this week. The Hammers would need to agree to a groundshare with Chelsea, though their contract with the London Legacy Development Corporation would allow them to do so.
Chelsea officials met with the powers that be at the LLDC at the end of last year to discuss a possible move, with no firm agreement put in place. It is believed that West Ham would be resistant to any such move, though the financial implications of sharing the space with Roman Abramovich’s club could yet persuade them otherwise.
West Ham agreed to pay £2.5 million per year for 99 years for the right to move into The Olympic Stadium from next season, beating Tottenham Hotspur who also wanted to use the ground. There was some controversy over the awarding of the use of the stadium to West Ham, with the Hammers having paid very little for it. It is believed to have cost £272 million to convert the ground to being a suitable space for Premier League football, with West Ham contributing just £15 million towards those costs.
The details of that deal were only made public after a legal battle with the stadium’s owners LLDC. Spurs, having lost out on the chance to play their games at The Olympic Stadium, have instead decided to redesign White Hart Lane in a similar manner to Chelsea’s decision to revamp Stamford Bridge. It is understood that they are close to agreeing a deal with the Football Association to play their home games at Wembley Stadium during the 2017-2018 season. That is part of the reason why Chelsea are exploring other options for their home games, reluctant as they are to alternate use of the home of the England international team with such fierce rivals.