chelsea stamford bridge

Former Chelsea chief executive Trevor Birch has opined that the reported delay in the renewal of Abramovich’s UK visa is linked to the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge being put on hold by the club.

The club announced on Thursday that it had put its plans to transform Stamford Bridge into a new 60,000-seater stadium on hold.

And Birch, who played a major part in selling Chelsea to Abramovich aired his views on the recent developments at the club in a chat with BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme:

“The Chelsea fans now face the prospect of no stadium, no manager and no star player if Eden Hazard moves to Real Madrid.”

This is with regards to the managerial uncertainty at the club with Conte set to leave, interest in Sarri seemingly going cold, while the likes of Zidane and former boss Avram Grant have emerged as targets for the club.

Birch added: “I wasn’t really surprised (by the Abramovich news) because it’s obviously linked to the visa situation.

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“There have been some rising costs in the stadium and it’s a difficult project to deliver – but I think this is clearly Roman upping the ante in the spat with the Home Office.”

“We’ve moved into a different phase now.

“If the visa issue isn’t resolved I think anything could happen. I think there’s obviously a great deal of concern around at the moment.

“But I think it’s eminently sellable as a club, based in west London. With TV rights increasing, if Manchester United is valued at over £3billion I think Chelsea is valued at £1.5billion – and very attractive.”

However, Birch added: “Of course to maintain the value of his (Abramovich) investment he needs to invest in players – and he didn’t.