Chelsea have not ruled out the possibility of remaining at Stamford Bridge until the summer of 2020 because of delays in the stadium redevelopment project, sources have confirmed to ESPN FC.
The original schedule devised by owner Roman Abramovich’s project team involved demolition beginning on Chelsea’s stadium at the end of the 2017-18 season, with the Premier League leaders moving into a temporary home — expected to be Wembley — for three years before returning to begin life in their new 60,000-seater venue.
But there is now an acceptance within the club that the earliest feasible moment for Chelsea to vacate Stamford Bridge is the end of the 2018-19 season and that the farewell might take place the following summer if any further delays arise.
Recent months have seen Chelsea’s £500 million plan to redevelop Stamford Bridge take two significant steps forward. Hammersmith and Fulham Council formally granted planning approval in January, while Mayor of London Sadiq Khan lent his public support to the project in March.
But obtaining planning approval took longer than initially expected due to the need for revisions to the plan, and the stadium project team are still reportedly in dialogue with Network Rail over the construction of decking over railway lines that run next to and serve the stadium.
Chelsea are not concerned by the delays and while the construction phase is still anticipated to take three years, the possibility has not been discounted that the Blues might have to spend four years elsewhere because of the scale and complexity of the project.
Wembley remains Chelsea’s first choice on the list of possible temporary homes and these delays mean there is less likely to be any overlap with rivals Tottenham’s tenure at the home of English football. Spurs expect their new stadium to be completed by the start of the 2018-19 season.