Chelsea stadium setback after vote fails

Chelsea's attempt to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge as the first step of an eventual move to a new 60,000-seat stadium ended in failure on Thursday, officials said.

At an extraordinary general meeting of the Chelsea Pitch Owners group -- the body of fans which own shares in Stamford Bridge -- only 61.6 percent of 5,796 voters were in favour of selling the ground back to the club.

That left Chelsea 13.4 percent short of the necessary 75 percent threshold needed to green light the sale.

The vote came after a bitter campaign between those in favour of the move to re-acquire the land sold to the CPO group in the 1990s and those who oppose it.

Chelsea officials say buying back Stamford Bridge is essential if the club is to realise its hopes of eventually moving to a new stadium at a different location in London such as Earls Court, Battersea or White City.

However a campaign group, 'Say No CPO (SNCPO), had objected to the buyback, accusing the club of a lack of transparency and rushing through the vote.

Campaigners also called for CPO shareholders to have their stakes transferred to any new Chelsea stadium.

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