CPO - What and Why
To understand this unique company, you have to know a little history.
In the 1980s Chelsea FC was under threat from property developers who wanted to change Stamford Bridge into a housing development, which would have meant that the club would have to find a new home, possibly sharing with another club.
This was strongly opposed by the then Chairman of the club, Ken Bates, who eventually obtained the freehold in the ground in the early 1990s.
In order to ensure that we never again had the threat of being evicted from our ground, the club decided to set up CPO to guard against it, by selling shares to ordinary fans. The club loaned CPO the money to pay for the freehold, and CPO is duty bound to repay this to the club. CPO lease the ground to the club for a period of 199 years starting in 1997.
The structure of CPO, is such that no one person can unduly influence the company, and in the event of the club wishing to move, they either have to surrender the name Chelsea FC to CPO, or to obtain the permission of CPO to do so.
What exactly does Chelsea Pitch Owners own?
Through a wholly owned subsidiary (Chelsea Stadium Limited), CPO own the freehold of the footprint of the current stadium. The physical evidence of this is seen in the change in brick colour on the ground in places such as outside the megastore. This indicates the boundary. The stadium is leased back to Chelsea, who pay a nominal rent to CPO.
Does Chelsea Pitch Owners run the stadium?
No. We lease the stadium to the club, who run the stadium, and everything to do with it.
How does Chelsea Pitch Owners repay its loan to Chelsea?
CPO sells shares each year, and 85 per cent of the nominal value of each share is payed to the club as repayment on the loan.
How does Chelsea Pitch Owners stay in business?
Even though there is a clause in our lease to the club that ensures that its debts can be paid, CPO tries to break even each year through selling shares in special ways, such as signed by players, or presented on the pitch, and through events such as dinners and tournaments.