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Chelsea 3 v 2 Leeds United
FA Cup
Wednesday, 28th February 2024 Kick-off 19:30
Chelsea Awaydaze
Monday, 26th Feb 2024 21:59 by Tim Whelan

It’s disgraceful that a round of the FA Cup has been moved to midweek just to squeeze a few more European games into the calendar, but these days everything revolves around a few big clubs. Our 5th round trip to Chelsea kicks off at 7.30 on Wednesday, and is live on ITV4.

If you’re driving the best bet is to leave the M25 at Junction 15 and take the M4 towards London, which then becomes the A4. Carry on over the Hammersmith flyover and after a further one and a half miles, take the Earls Court turning (A3220). Continue past Earls Court station and down the one-way system until you reach the junction with Fulham Road (A304).

At this junction, turn right at the traffic lights and after about half a mile, you will see the ground on your right. I’ve been told that the Awaydaze was very old school for not including the postcode for sat navs, so here it is: SW6 1HS.

Not that you will be able to park right outside Stamford Bridge if this modern technology took you all the way there. A number of local resident schemes are in operation around the stadium, and the car parks are rather pricey too. So you're probably better off parking further away and catching the tube to Fulham Broadway, which is on the Wimbledon branch of the district line.

The junction for this branch is Earl’s Court, and as it’s a bit hairy trying to get a drink close to the stadium, it’s probably best to head for the ‘Courtfield Tavern’, which is almost opposite the main entrance to Earls Court station. Other options are the Earls Court Tavern and The Prince of Teck, both of which are a short distance up the Earls Court road.

In the eighties there used to be gangs of Chelsea fans ready to attack anyone changing trains at Earl's Court who wasn't wearing Chelsea colours, and if they asked if you were a Leeds fan and you said you weren't they usually hit you anyway. Thankfully it's much safer to use the underground now.

For many decades Stamford Bridge had an oval shape, having been the home of the London Athletic club before Chelsea moved in in 1905. In the early 1970s they had ambitious plans to revamp all four sides of the ground, but in this period only the huge and vastly expensive East Stand was completed (in 1973) and it’s cost came very close to bankrupting the club.

The re-development of the other three sides of the Bridge had to wait for Matthew Harding’s cash to arrive in the mid-90s. The demands of the Taylor meant that the terraces at both ends had to be replaced by all-seater stands, and a new west stand finished the job in 2001. This gave them a present-day capacity of 41,631.

The away section is on one side of the Shed End lower tier (towards the East Stand side), where our allocation this time is 5,366 tickets. They did want to give us even more (as we’re supposed to be allowed 15% of capacity under competition rules) but the fixture was deemed “high risk”, and the authorities thought it necessary to reduce the number of tickets available in both home and away sections.

Inevitably our allocation sold out almost as soon as it went on sale, even though they cost a walloping £38 for adults, with concessions at £19. The entire away section is designated a safe standing area, but despite that you must stay in your allocated position. Tickets for the home section are only available to those with 10 loyalty points.

Two years ago there were complaints about overcrowding around the away turnstiles after they failed to work properly, but Chelsea did of course try to put the blame on us. Last time the official Leeds site has published some information from Chelsea asking us to get there early, to allow for the three-stage entry system, with a couple of checks on us before we even get to the turnstiles.

The view from this area of the ground is pretty good and the refreshment areas are modern looking, though the choice of scoff is limited and rather expensive. If you don't want to subsidise Chelsea's under-performing squad any more than you have to, you can find more reasonably priced refreshments in the large numbers of takeaways along the Fulham Road.

Alcohol is not permitted on the streets surrounding Stamford Bridge, but it usually is on sale in the away concourses’ pre-match and at half-time. And we’re also told that “this provision will only be removed due to anti-social behaviour from fans”, so it’s a good job we’re always very well behaved.

We’re also warned that there is a zero-tolerance approach to discriminatory chanting and hate crimes at Stamford Bridge, so things have certainly changed here since the 1980s. A message passed on by the Leeds official site specifically tells that the ‘rent boy’ chant is a chant is a homophobic slur, so you can be arrested for joining in with it.

Nearby is the 'Chelsea Village', which offers 2 four-star hotels, four restaurants, apartments, banqueting and conference facilities, as well as a health club. That was all built by one Ken Bates, who fell out with Matthew Harding, who wanted the money to be invested in the playing squad rather than on all this tomfoolery. Whatever happened to master Bates?

In 2001 Stamford Bridge was the largest football stadium in London. Obviously that was surpassed by the rebuilt Wembley, and in the years since Spurs, Arsenal and West Ham have all moved to larger new premises. So Chelsea now feel the need to catch up, and given their ridiculous spending they could do with a big increase in matchday revenues, to make sure they stay within FFP limits.

In 2017 they secured planning permission for the demolition and rebuilding of a new and revamped 60,000 capacity Stamford Bridge, but this has now lapsed with no building work has been done. They latest is that they are still looking at options, which might include a ‘knock down and rebuild’, with at least a season of playing elsewhere.

This may or may not include buying an acre of land next to the Bridge, where they might provide extra food and drink outlets, retail stuff and fanzones. Apparently this is to ‘add to the experience’, which is very exciting, though they are a bit light on the details. But they’re aiming to have it all done by 2030. Possibly.

Some of this stuff came from .


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