A GROUP opposing Chelsea's plans to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge has warned the venue for a crucial vote on the subject may not be able to cope with interest from fans who own shares.
The freehold, owned by 12,000 Chelsea Pitch Owner (CPO) shareholders, is up for grabs at a meeting of CPO on October 27.
That meeting is to be held at Stamford Bridge's Ron Harris Suite – which, with a capacity of 350 to 400, is unlikely to be able to hold a fraction of those expected by campaigners to turn up.
James Greenbury, a spokesman for the Say No CPO group formed this week by competing supporters organisations, said: “I personally wouldn't be surprised if a great deal more than that turned up. I urge people to turn up early – and that they need to bring photo identification, or they won't be allowed in.
“It may well be that the meeting needs to be relocated.”
It is understood that there are plans to accommodate larger numbers, and that no shareholder meeting the entry requirements will be turned away.
Opposition to the Chelsea bid will this week focus on Saturday's Premier League match against Everton. Say No CPO insists there will be no protest or attempt to disrupt the game, but that volunteers will be distributing 10,000 leaflets setting out their wishes. Some fans are expected to sing chants in opposition, or display banners.
Mr Greenbury, who has been a Chelsea supporter for 42 years, said: “This is not about anything other than doing best for club, and not an attack on Roman Abramovich – who has done so much for Chelsea.
“Its about the future of our club. We lived through the '80s and 90s when we nearly lost the ground – not because the then owner had ill intent, but because the grandson of the founder had sold the freehold when got into financial trouble.
“Anything could happen in the future, and we need to stay prepared for that.”
For more information on the Say No CPO group, visit www.saynocpo.org