Roman Abramovich has teamed up with one of London’s leading developers in an attempt to move Chelsea Football Club to Battersea Power Station.
The club has appointed Mike Hussey, chief executive of Almacantar, as its development partner and has hired the architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox to work on the relocation of the club to the site, less than two miles from its Stamford Bridge home, The Times understands.
It is understood that Mr Hussey and Kohn Pedersen Fox are drawing up a plan that would use the Grade II-listed site. A new stadium would be created to the southeast of the power station, with commercial uses — from hotels to executive boxes and retail stores — located within the building.
Mr Hussey previously headed the London division of Land Securities, Britain’s biggest property company, before setting up Almacantar last year. In February Almacantar was chosen as the preferred developer for the redevelopment of the Nursery End of Lord’s cricket ground.
A spokesman for Chelsea said yesterday that it had not been in talks over the site for some time, but added: “We now think it prudent to look again at the feasibility and potential for the Battersea Power Station site to be developed for a football stadium. We have made no decision to leave Stamford Bridge and we continue to discuss with the local council any economically viable options to expand the [existing] stadium — but we will continue to investigate various options close to Stamford Bridge.”
Property experts say that the club’s arrival in Battersea could secure the future of the power station. A new stadium would also be much bigger than the present 42,000-seat venue.
Mr Abramovich’s hopes for a move suffered a setback last month when Chelsea Pitch Owners, which owns the pitch and stands at Stamford Bridge, rejected the club’s bid to buy the freehold.
Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman, has ruled out building a new stadium without owning the freehold and said that the board would meet to decide its next move.
The club’s plan will complicate an already fraught development wrangle taking place at the power station, which has been empty for nearly two decades. Its owner — Real Estate Opportunities, largely owned in turn by Treasury Holdings of Ireland — has been trying for a year to find an equity investor to fund a proposed £5.5 billion redevelopment. The site has about £300 million of debt owed to Lloyds Banking Group and the Irish National Asset Management Agency, which can be called in at any time.
A Malaysian investor, SP Setia, has offered to buy the senior debt for £255 million at 85p in the pound, according to newspaper reports. Treasury Holdings wants SP Setia’s proposal to succeed as it could retain a small equity stake and receive a development manager’s fee for building 3,400 homes and developing commercial space.