Chelsea have bowed to pressure to be more open about their stadium plans by releasing details of their attempts to redevelop Stamford Bridge.
The Blues published a summary of a presentation made to Chelsea Pitch Owners a week ago in which they provided the reasons why they felt increasing the capacity of their home of 107 years may be unviable. The club had been accused by shareholders in CPO - the fan-led company which owns the land beneath Stamford Bridge - of not fully exploring the possibility of staying put before attempting to buy back the stadium freehold last October.
That was seen as a precursor to a move to a new 60,000-seater ground, something Chelsea are unable to do before convincing CPO to sell up. In publishing their findings on their official website, the club insisted they had consulted fully with Hammersmith and Fulham Council, who vowed in November to do everything possible to help them stay put.
Chelsea said in a statement: "We are not in any way stating that the club has made a decision on the need to move. This is certainly not the case and the board and the owner are, as we have continually said, keen to stay at Stamford Bridge.''
But they added: "It is clear to the board of Chelsea Football Club that a complete new build of a 60,000 seat stadium at Stamford Bridge has little chance of acceptability.
"We believe that, after our discussions with the council, they have come to the same conclusion. A 60,000 new-build would cost over £600million and require the club to play away for at least three seasons and, even if the economics were acceptable, the planning risks would likely be insurmountable.
"Expanding Stamford Bridge to 55,000 also has a number of challenges. The cost-per-seat of expanding the stands is very high. The incremental revenues provide an unsatisfactory level of return, would not even cover the hypothetical financing costs, and the planning risks are significant. We believe the council recognises these challenges.
"The club's exercise over the years has been to analyse a large spectrum of possible expansion options, even some which would appear to be unworkable. The board recognises that our work will not satisfy every fan, but the board also believes its work has been thorough, appropriate and in the best interests of the club and all of our fans.''
CPO said of the presentation in a statement: "The presentations were very open, with regular input, questions and points made by the CPO board. All were responded to with clarity and transparency by the club and the experts they had brought along.
"Like many of our shareholders, we have hoped and felt that there might still be some way to expand the capacity of Stamford Bridge. Having seen the detailed analysis, we all felt that a persuasive case was put that this might no longer be feasible or viable.
"Since so many of the planning issues concern the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, we are requesting further information and comments from them regarding Chelsea's presentation.
"We hope that, as far as possible, Chelsea make the materials we have seen available for scrutiny by all shareholders and supporters so that the issue can be debated further.''