It seems that neither the Local Councillors or the Richmond Council seem to want Chelsea to use Twickenham Stadium while they redevelop Stamford Bridge. We at the St Margarets Community Website would have been willing to listen to the proposal before rejecting it out of hand; however, it doesn’t look likely to even be entertained.
Richmond Council was surprised to hear Chelsea’s announcement regarding confirmation of its interest in temporarily relocating to Twickenham and expressed considerable concern.
On Sunday 28 September, Chelsea confirmed its interest in temporarily relocating to Twickenham, should their own stadium be redeveloped. Whilst the RFU issued a statement confirming that an initial enquiry from the football club had been received, they acknowledged that the conversation is still very early days.
Cllr Geoffrey Samuel, Deputy Leader of Richmond Council, is alarmed about the proposition. He said:
“I am not happy about these proposals and I don’t believe our local residents will be either.
“Twickenham Stadium plays host to a large number of rugby games and other events each year. Hosting Chelsea on a regular basis would put a huge amount of pressure on the local area and would raise a number of very serious issues, both to those living directly around the stadium, and indeed the wider borough.
“Should this proposal move forward, the Council would want urgent discussions both with the RFU and local Police, regarding crowd control, traffic management, community safety and transport, and of course what measures would be put in place to mitigate the impact on the area. We will of course expect the RFU to consult with our local residents.”
Local Councillors Ask RFU Board to Reject Chelsea Bid
On Monday 6 October, Liberal Democrat Councillor, Alexander Ehmann delivered individual letters to to all members Board of the Rugby Football Union on behalf of the three local Councillors for the St Margaret’s and North Twickenham Ward.
In the letters to the RFU Board members, including RFU Chairman, Bill Beaumont, Councillors Ehmann, Khosa and Acton explained local residents’ concerns about the proposed relocation of Chelsea Football Club to Twickenham Stadium and pressed the Board to end the uncertainty around this unwelcome approach by dismissing the proposal at the earliest opportunity.
The letters follow Chelsea Football Club’s recent announcement that it would be interested in temporarily relocating to Twickenham Stadium, while works on Stamford Bridge are undertaken. Local residents have expressed grave misgivings about such a move and the local Councillors acted on these concerns.
Commenting on Chelsea Football Club’s proposed relocation to Twickenham, Cllr Ehmann said:
“While we have nothing against Chelsea Football Club or their fans, the public announcement of Chelsea’s interest in relocating to Twickenham is brazen and unwanted by local people. Many nearby residents are concerned by the RFU’s silence over the proposal and each day that goes by without an answer only adds to the fear that Twickenham Stadium is available to the highest bidder, regardless of the impact on residents.”
“The letters to members of the RFU Board make abundantly clear that only early and decisive outright rejection of Chelsea’s approach will be good enough for residents. Over 19 football games would need to be held at Twickenham Stadium should the move go ahead and the impacts on traffic, road access and the requirements for more extensive levels of policing would be catastrophic. As local Councillors for the area, we shall not rest until this half-baked scheme is thrown out.”
– from a Liberal Democrat press release - 6 October 2014