Chelsea's stadium redevelopment plans have been dealt a severe blow after it was revealed the planned moving in date has been pushed back yet again.
The Blues were initially hoping to move into the new version of Stamford Bridge in time for the 2020/21 season — but that has now been pushed back to at least 2024/25.
Chelsea were supposed to move out of their current ground next season but will now not vacate until 2020, according to the Daily Mail.
Speaking at a Fans Forum earlier this season, a member of the project team looking after Chelsea's stadium redevelopment is reported to have said: "We hope, subject to approvals, to start (work) in the third quarter of 2018 including the museum and health club being demolished, with work on the railway lines starting in 2019.
As a Russian oligarch worth an estimated $9.1 billion, Roman Abramovich will have no doubt become accustomed to getting his own way.
However, his ambitious plans to build a £1 billion new stadium for his Chelsea Football Club are being thwarted by an unlikely adversary - a family of four who fear a “loss of light” in their London cottage that overlooks the Stamford Bridge stadium where the redevelopment is to take place.
For more than 20 years, Nicolas, 69, and Lucinda Crosthwaite, 58, have lived, along with their children Louis, 23, and Rose, 25, in a Fulham house next to the Premier League team’s grounds.
In 2014, the club began developing plans to create Europe’s most expensive and lavish stadium there. Last year, it was granted planning consent by Hammersmith and Fulham Council and received the backing of Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, because it was expected to bring an economic boost and jobs to the area.
Although the club has agreed to compensate most of the 50 neighbouring homes that will suffer as a result of the redesign, they have reached a stalemate with the Crosthwaites. In May, Mr Crosthwaite, a 69-year-old retired director of an investment company, took out a High Court injunction to stop the 60-000 capacity stadium going ahead because it would cast a shadow over their home.
Despite two-years of negotiations with a reported offer of a six-figure sum to the Crosthwaites, the club’s lawyers have written to the council saying the family’s opposition “poses a clear risk” to the new stadium, with funding on hold until the issue is resolved.
Now councillors are being urged to use special powers to block the family’s injunction by overriding their right to light to allow building work to begin because it was in the wider “public interest”. Councillors will vote on whether to buy the disputed land, lease it back to the club and invoke special powers to override the family’s rights.
In a letter to the council, Rose Crosthwaite said the “sunlight and daylight will be seriously affected” to five of their windows by a proposed walkway, adding that the stadium would have an “unacceptable and harmful” effect on the area. The family’s lawyers say the east stand that would loom over the home needs redesigning, and the planned 17,000 hospitality seats are excessive compared to stadia at other major clubs. They add that the club’s insistence that the council ride roughshod over the rights of the Crosthwaites was not in the public interest and possibly illegal.
Although a public consultation found 97.5 per cent of locals backed the redevelopment of the club’s 112 year home, some residents where homes cost more than £1 million, accused the club of being “land grabbers”.
One homeowner, who did not want to be named, said: "Chelsea are land grabbers, they are too big and think they can do anything they want."
Mr Crosthwaite refused to comment on his battle with Mr Abramovich, who counts Vladimir Putin among his friends.
The council will decide on whether to use their special powers to buy the land to be developed and then overrule the Crosthwaite’s right to light, a law allowing longstanding owner of a property with windows to continue to receive light.
The roof of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, was redesigned to allow a dip following a planning dispute with neighbours who successfully argued that the original plans would stop their “right to light”.
Chelsea have settled a dispute with a neighbour whose objection to the construction of a new £1 billion stadium at Stamford Bridge was threatening to hold up the project.
Plans for the redevelopment of the ground into a 60,000-seat arena hit a barrier when the the Crosthwaite family, who own a home nearby, took out a High Court injunction last May over a "right to light.''
The club, which had agreed to compensate most of the affected properties, had stated the obstacle made the project "undeliverable.''
However, in January their request was accepted for Hammersmith and Fulham Council to intervene and compulsorily purchase an interest in land -- owned by Network Rail and Transport for London -- in order to override the "right to light" principle.
An agreement has now been reached with the Crosthwaites which allow work to start.
"Chelsea FC have reached an agreement to settle the ongoing legal proceedings in relation to rights to light. The details of the agreement are confidential,'' the club announced.
Chelsea have put their proposed redevelopment of Stamford Bridge on hold indefinitely due to an “unfavourable investment climate”.
The Blues were looking to redevelop their home ground into a new 60,000-seater stadium and aimed to take up residency in 2021. But the Premier League club announced on Thursday that the proposal has been put on ice – with no time frame given for the plans to move forwards again.
Chelsea would not expand on a brief club statement, amid reports the delayed renewal of Russian Roman Abramovich’s visa may have been linked to the decision not to push ahead with the redevelopment at this time.
A statement on the club’s official website 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.”
After plans to relocate failed to materialise, it appeared Chelsea were set to remain at Stamford Bridge, albeit with a vastly improved facility.