LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: The stands at Stamford Bridge is seen before the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on October 15, 2011 in London, England. Chelsea has made an offer to buy back the parts of Stamford Bridge sold to supporters in the 1990s in what has been seen as a precursor to a move to a new 60,000-seater ground. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Alright, so maybe it won't be Samsung giving us the money, but according to Chelsea CEO Ron Gourlay we should get ready for a Stamford Bridge naming rights package, and we should get ready for it fast, because there's probably one coming for next season. Now, this isn't really news because he said the exact same thing all of a month ago and has been going on about a naming rights deal for the past two years, but this time the papers have picked it up and so I'm writing about it.
And, if you're reading this post, I assume you want my opinion on the new name. That's easy. I hate it. I don't even know what it is, and I hate it.
No matter what, I'll hate it. The fact that Stamford Bridge will stay in the name (or so says Gourlay, at least) mollifies me not at all. Yes, Samsung Bridge would have been pretty appalling, but 'Samsung Stadium at Stamford Bridge' isn't any better, and it sounds like we're going to get something very much along those lines. I'm actually fine with corporately-named stadiums, incidentally - I've gotten used to US sporting culture and my two favourite teams in North America play at Safeco Field and Scotiabank Place - but renaming a 106 year old ground? That's something malevolent and sinister, conjuring the sort of scenes that see great machines tear into forested hillside to add another cookie-cutter apartment complex to the world. Ugh.
However, this is a necessary evil, just like the eventual move to a bigger stadium will be. Chelsea need to comply with Financial Fair Play, and that means they need to raise more money. This is a way to do it, so they'll do it. Next up, one would imagine, is an increase in ticket prices. The fact that the stadium doesn't see many empty seats is a sign that the club isn't charging enough, so that's an obvious hole to exploit, too. Then what? I have no idea - I'm just a dude who writes about football - but I'm sure there are many creative things Chelsea could do to raise some more cash. We just probably won't like any of them.
So it goes.
PS: Gourlay mentioned that he thinks the club will need to move to a 65,000 seat stadium at some point, so no matter what you think of that plan, it's pretty clear evidence that the CPO vote hasn't killed off the prospect of a move. He's also said that Chelsea are looking into the possibility of expanding Stamford Bridge, which haaaaaaaa yeah right, council help or no.