Introducing Campaign55 – A New Initiative from Chelsea Pitch Owners’ Shareholders
I’m sure that the events of last Autumn connected with Chelsea Pitch Owners are only too fresh in the minds of most Chelsea fans.
One of the reasons that the proposal put before CPO shareholders at October’s EGM failed to be carried, was the efforts of a group of CPO shareholders who banded together under the name Say No CPO.
After the EGM, Say No continued to put pressure on the board of Chelsea Pitch Owners in connection with outstanding issues such as the disputed/misold shares, which are the subject of a report currently being compiled by Gray Smith of the CPO board, and also the “marriage value” of the ground and the shares.
However, over the last couple of weeks, following extensive correspondence and meetings, members of Say No have decided to launch a fresh initiative in connection with Chelsea Pitch Owners called Campaign55.
SNCPO stalwarts Clint Steele and Dave Spring have stated their intention that going forward Say No’s position is intrinsically opposed to any disbanding of CPO, and any move away from Stamford Bridge. However, Campaign55 is intended as a progressive movement. And here I must declare my hand.
Who are Ya?
I’ve reported and blogged on CPO issues for TheChels over the last couple of years and have been a member of SNCPO. One of the most frequent allegations against SNCPO (mainly by CFC Truth, themselves a shadowy group with no public spokesperson) was that the group was faceless and “not transparent” – something I have certainly taken issue with, never having sought to hide my identity, save for the nickname I’ve always used in blogs.
Campaign55 has a steering group of three – myself and fellow CPO shareholders Darren Mantle and Adil Pastakia. However, we want this group to represent as many fans as possible and we are looking to affiliate with as many supporters’ groups as possible. We might be the shareholders, but we want to get views of the fans in the street, the pub and the blog, and pass these on to the board.
A Twitter account, Facebook page and an email address have been created, and a mission statement prepared. The website is now live at http://www.campaign55.org/ . and an appearance on the Chelsea Football FanCast is planned in the weeks ahead.
What’s It All About, Then?
The choice of Campaign55 as a name took a lot of deliberation and involved not just the steering group, but members of the wider SNCPO group. It’s our belief that the club should ideally be looking to expand Stamford Bridge to a capacity of 55,000. We genuinely feel that the 60,000 capacity being mentioned in recent communications from the club is not a realistic ambition.
With the exception of the true marquee games like Manchester United and Barcelona, it’s becoming easier and easier for fans who can still afford tickets to pick up the inevitable “spares”. Even for games like the recent match with Tottenham, tickets were available for those with nil loyalty points. Five years ago, that wouldn’t have happened. We’ve seen plans which show how the ground could be extended without disturbing the historically significant, and difficult to dismantle, East Stand, and leaving the relatively new West Stand intact.
However, if, after full consultation with Chelsea Pitch Owners and Hammersmith & Fulham Council, it can be proved beyond all reasonable doubt and economic viability the ground can’t be extended, then Campaign55 would support moving to a new 55,000 seater stadium within the historic Chelsea FC catchment area, i.e. Earl’s Court or Battersea.
We are serious about this endeavour, and as a result letters of introduction will be sent to Bruce Buck, the Chairman of Chelsea FC, together with the Board of Chelsea Pitch Owners. We are also taking steps to liaise with Hammersmith & Fulham Council in order to make the voices of our fans heard.
Just the Beginning
Campaign55 is in its infancy, but all of us involved are determined to use the movement as a conduit between the fans, the CPO organisation and the club to ensure that in the crucial medium to long term ahead, the interests of all Chelsea supporters are represented. This is just the beginning.
The Twitter account address for Campaign55 is @Campaign55, you can access the Facebook page via http://www.facebook.com/campaign55 and email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m also happy to answer questions about Campaign55 on the comments thread here, or through my own Twitter account @BlueBaby67