Chelsea to miss out on Battersea stadium - source

Monday 28 May 2012 14.50
Battersea sales decision as early as this week, a source has indicated
Battersea sales decision as early as this week, a source has indicated

Chelsea Football Club will almost certainly fail in its bid to move its stadium to London landmark Battersea Power Station.

This is according to a source close to the sale process, says Reuters.

About 15 bidders including Chelsea, which is owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, submitted plans in May to buy the protected 15-hectare site on the banks of the Thames.

The site is the subject of repeated failed redevelopment attempts in the three decades since it shut.

Malaysian property company SP Setia and veteran British developer Godfrey Bradman are leading the chase to buy the site with one other bidder also in the frame, the source said, describing the Chelsea bid as "way off the pace".

A final decision could come as early as this week, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A report in UK trade magazine Property Week suggested Bradman's bid may in difficulty after funding from its backers, the reclusive billionaires David and Simon Reuben, had been withdrawn. Bradman was behind the Broadgate Circle development in London's main financial district in the 1980s.

A sale to SP Setia would mark its first foray into Europe and add to its residential schemes in Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.

The crumbling riverside edifice, which is Europe's largest brick structure, and its quartet of art-deco white chimneys have been a recognisable silhouette on the London skyline for 80 years.

The site came on to the market after a £5.5 billion sterling plan by Ireland's Treasury Holdings for homes, shops and offices collapsed in December and had a price tag of about £300-400m. It was placed into administration by Lloyds Banking Group and the National Asset Management Agency which are reportedly owed about £400m between them.

Chelsea said earlier this month the power station had "the potential to become one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world".

The football club has looked for alternative London homes after running into difficulties extending its 42,000 capacity Stamford Bridge stadium and recently failing in an attempt to move to Earls Court in west London. The size of the ground puts the club at a financial disadvantage to rivals like Arsenal, whose stadium holds 60,000.

Abramovich has been unable to persuade a supporter-led group called Chelsea Pitch Owners to sell him the freehold of the stadium due to its fear the club will relocate and sell the site to property developers.

Battersea Power Station would be worth an extra £470m to a developer that could demolish the building and replace it with 1,200 apartments, according to calculations done for Reuters by property consultancy EC Harris. The details of what Setia and Bradman are planning for the power station site are not known.