Chelsea abandon stadium search

April 12, 2006

Chelsea have abandoned their search for a new stadium site and will now concentrate on raising the capacity at Stamford Bridge to 55,000.

Chelsea's chief executive Peter Kenyon has told Mayor of London Ken Livingstone on their trip to China that the Barclays Premiership champions now want to stay where they are.

Chelsea have linked with a number of possible stadium sites, from Earls Court and Olympia to White City, but now plan to expand the Bridge's capacity by 12,500 instead.

Kenyon said: 'If we got everything we wanted, we could get to 55,000.

'I think we have got to live in the confines of what we have got.'

The mayor's consent to any ground expansion is crucial because he has the power to block the 300 biggest planning applications made each year in the capital.

Despite the club being close to clinching back-to-back Premiership titles, Kenyon added the large number of televised matches and the fact so many games were no longer played on Saturdays meant anything over their target attendance of 55,000 was unrealistic.

Meanwhile Chelsea keeper Carlo Cudicini admits he is not taking a place in Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final line-up for granted.

Cudicini has been ever-present in Jose Mourinho's FA Cup side this season and is hoping to play a part in helping the club lift their first league and cup double.

Cudicini was destined to play in the Carling Cup final against Liverpool last term until he was sent off against Newcastle in the fifth round of FA Cup the week before the showpiece event at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

His one previous experience of an FA Cup final at the Wales venue also brought him disappointment as Chelsea lost to Arsenal in 2002.

'The FA Cup is different and because we lost an FA Cup at Cardiff, eventually winning it will be the revenge, not for me the Carling Cup,' said Cudicini.

'That is what I feel, but we have the semi-final to play first.'

A place in Chelsea's FA Cup final line-up, should they overcome Liverpool in the semi-finals, would give Cudicini the chance to play a major part in claiming the double.

The Italian insists the squad are not buckling under the weight of expectation as the season reaches its climax.

'The chance to win the double is not a pressure,' he added. 'The players we have, we know that we can win both. It is something that very few teams have done so this is really important for the club.

'At the same time, because we won the championship last season doesn't make winning it less important. To do it two in a row would be special - and we are in a great position.'