DESIGNERS working on the plans to redevelop Chelsea's stadium have started looking at new sites away from Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea decided last year to put on hold their project to rebuild Stamford Bridge from ground up amid costs spiralling to £1billion.
An unfavourable investment climate was given as one of the main reasons for the club's board mothballing the redevelopment, even though it had been given planning permission.
But a report in the New Civil Engineer claims the team working on the concept have begun the work of trying to slash the budget in half in an attempt to revive it – with moving away from Stamford Bridge one of the things they are looking at.
Chelsea wanted to build a new 60,000-a-capacity ground in order for them to satisfy supporter demand and keep up with the rivals commercially.
A club spokesperson insists the stadium is "completely on hold" and stressed "there has been no time frame set for a reconsideration of this position".
But the report claims Chelsea bosses have held informal talks with designers, and that there could be an appetite to restarts the project if the costs involved were dramatically slashed.
The club had achieved planning permission to demolish their current 41,600-capacity ground and build a stunning new 60,000-venue on the same site.
Key to the whole project was a design which would see decks built over the top of the rail lines which run behind two sides of the ground.
That would allow them to dramatically increase the footprint of the stadium, delivering a huge increase on the number of seats they can install.
If Chelsea are to remain in their current location in West London and deliver a big enough stadium, any new design would have to incorporate that overhang of the District Line and overground service.
So any reduction in costs would have to be found elsewhere, which is likely to mean the brick-cladding around the main structures could have to be shelved.
The current planning permission was granted two years ago, and remains valid so long as initial on the development work commences before January next year.
Chelsea would then have until January 2023 to begin construction work in earnest.
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