Chelsea Football Club have shelved plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge just as owner Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich faces a glitch in renewing his work visa. In a terse statement on its website, the west London club stated it was putting the new stadium project on hold and that further preparatory design and planning work will also cease.
The statement read: “Chelsea Football Club announces today that it has put its new stadium project on hold. No further pre-construction design and planning work will occur. The club does not have a time frame set for reconsideration of its decision. The decision was made due to the current unfavourable investment climate.”
Political observers are however linking the decision with Abramovich’s unexplained inability to secure the renewal of his investor’s visa. The business magnate who lives on Britain’s most exclusive street, Kensington Palace Gardens, was also inexplicably absent from the Blues’ recent victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup at Wembley.
Relations between Russia and the United Kingdom has worsened since the Skripal poisoning. Britain has vowed tougher sanctions against the inner circle of President Vladimir Putin but has declined to explain whether the Chelsea owner is suffering this backlash.
The football club has had a miserable season failing to clinch a top-four spot in the Premier League which means the lack of Champions’ League football next season. The position of coach Antonio Conte is also yet to be clarified with many football watchers speculating he faces the chop.