Chelsea Club Information
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Chelsea Football Club, (also known as The Blues or previously The Pensioners) are a professional English football club based in west London. Founded in 1905, they play in the Premier League and have spent most of their history in the top tier in English football. They have had two broad periods of success, one during the 1960s and early 1970s, and the second from the late 1990s to the present day.
Chelsea's home is the 42,055-person capacity Stamford Bridge football stadium in Fulham, West London, where they have played since their establishment. Despite their name, the club are based just outside the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. In 2003, the club was bought by Russian oil magnate Roman Abramovich.
The club's traditional kit colours are royal blue shirts and shorts with white socks. Their traditional crest is a ceremonial blue lion holding a staff; a modified version of this was adopted in 2005.
Chelsea's Stamford Bridge Stadium
Chelsea have only ever had one home ground, Stamford Bridge, where they have played since foundation. It was officially opened on 28 April 1877. For the first 28 years of its existence it was used almost exclusively by the London Athletics Club as an arena for athletics meetings and not at all for football. In 1904 the ground was acquired by businessman Gus Mears and his brother, J T Mears, who had previously acquired additional land (formerly a large market garden) with the aim of staging football matches on the now 12.5 acre site.
During the late 1960s and early 70s, the club's owners embarked on a modernisation of Stamford Bridge with plans for a 50,000 all-seater stadium. Work began on the East Stand in the early 1970s but the cost almost brought the club to its knees, and the freehold was sold to property developers. Following a long legal battle, it was not until the mid-1990s that Chelsea's future at the stadium was secured and renovation work resumed. The north, west and southern parts of the ground were converted into all-seater stands and moved closer to the pitch, a process completed by 2001.
The Stamford Bridge pitch, the freehold, the turnstiles and Chelsea's naming rights are now owned by Chelsea Pitch Owners, a non-profit organisation in which fans are the shareholders. The CPO was created to ensure the stadium could never again be sold to developers. It also means that if someone tries to move the football club to a new stadium they could not use the Chelsea FC name.
The club plans to increase its capacity to over 50,000. Owing to its location in a built-up part of London on a main road and next to two railway lines, fans can only enter the stadium through the Fulham Road entrance, which places severe constraints on expansion due to health and safety regulations. As a result, Chelsea have been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge to sites including the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Battersea Power Station and the Chelsea Barracks. However, the club have reiterated their desire to keep Chelsea at their current home.
Chelsea Fans and Supporters
Chelsea have the fifth highest average all-time attendance in English football and regularly attract over 40,000 fans to Stamford Bridge; they were the fifth best-supported Premiership team in the 2005–06 season, with an average gate of 41,870. Chelsea's traditional fanbase comes from working-class parts of West London, such as Hammersmith and Battersea, from wealthier areas like Chelsea and Kensington, and from the Home Counties. In addition to the standard football chants, Chelsea fans sing songs like "Carefree", "Blue is the Colour", "We all follow the Chelsea" (to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory), "Ten Men Went to Mow", "Zigga Zagga", "Hello! Hello!" and the celebratory "Celery", with the latter often resulting in fans ritually throwing celery.
Chelsea do not have a traditional rivalry in the manner of Liverpool and Everton or Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The club's nearest neighbours are Fulham, but they are not seen as big rivals by Chelsea fans, because the clubs have spent most of the last 40 years in separate divisions. A 2004 survey by Planetfootball.com found that Chelsea fans consider their main rivalries to be with (in order): Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Additionally, a strong rivalry with Leeds United dates back to several heated and controversial matches in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly the FA Cup final in 1970. A more recent rivalry has grown with Liverpool following several clashes in cup competitions.