Valencia and Chelsea admit to fresh stadium challenges

The Mestalla prepares to host the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Valencia CF and Atalanta (by UEFA - Handout via Getty Images)

Spanish LaLiga football club Valencia has seen the collapse of a deal crucial to the competition of its much-delayed Nuevo Mestalla, while English Premier League team Chelsea has delayed its long-running efforts to deliver a new stadium.

Valencia halted work on the 61,500-seat Nuevo Mestalla in February 2009, two years after breaking ground on the project, due to financial issues. Since this time, the club has seen multiple efforts to resume work fall by the wayside, with the latest coming as the club yesterday (Sunday) confirmed that a proposed deal with ADU Mediterráneo will not be completed.

In April 2019, Valencia revealed that a deal had been reached that would release the funds needed to allow work to restart on Nuevo Mestalla. The agreement for the current Mestalla stadium, Valencia’s home since 1923, was reached with ADU Mediterráneo, which intended to demolish the venue and redevelop it into a residential complex consisting of a maximum of 414 homes.

Valencia has previously said the ADU deal would nearly fully finance the completion of work on the new stadium and was worth well above €100m ($110.7m). However, the club yesterday said an exclusive window to seal the agreement will not be fulfilled by a deadline of March 31, leading to the agreement being terminated.

Valencia said it will now analyse different alternatives, with the objective of carrying out the complete operation, including the resumption of construction work at the new stadium. However, it has left the door open to ADU, stating: “Without prejudice to this, ADU will continue to look for the adequate financial guarantees for its project, with the aim of being able to reach in the future, where appropriate, a new agreement with Valencia CF that is satisfactory to both parties, albeit without exclusivity in negotiations from this moment forward.”

Commenting on the news, Valencia president Anil Murthy maintained the club is committed to finishing the new stadium, adding it is a “fundamental project” for the club and for the city of Valencia.

Murthy said: “We are going to evaluate different alternatives again. Since a long time ago, and especially in the last 12 months, a lot of work has already been done. There is a base there that helps us a lot. However, we have to look at it with the perspective that the Covid-19 global pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty and pressure for the financial situation worldwide -both for football clubs and the world in general.

“This horrible current situation is having an impact on everybody, and is going to mean a big economic blow to investments, especially in infrastructure. Nobody knows when the economy is going to regain a certain normality, both in Spain and in the world, but we cannot wait for that and from this moment onwards we will continue looking for the best options.”

In May 2018, Valencia agreed a partnership with professional and financial services company Deloitte as it sought to step up work on the new stadium. One of Deloitte’s four key responsibilities was to guide the sale of the current Mestalla site.

Meanwhile, Chelsea has said it will continue to consider its options for a new stadium, “should economic conditions improve”, after admitting that the planning permission it obtained will expire tomorrow (Tuesday) with no real progress having been made on the project.

Chelsea confirmed the news in a brief statement issued on Saturday, with the club also having endured numerous difficulties in resolving stadium challenges. In June 2018, Chelsea placed the major redevelopment project for its Stamford Bridge stadium on hold, citing an “unfavourable investment climate”.

Chelsea outlined that no further pre-construction design and planning work would occur. The club added that it did not have a time frame set for reconsideration of its decision.

In March 2017, Chelsea had its plans for a £500m (€560.7m/$620.4m) redevelopment of Stamford Bridge approved by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. However, the price tag for the project has risen significantly since then.

The new-look facility was set to be built on the site of Chelsea’s current ground, with the club having spent years analysing various solutions to boost its capacity and resulting matchday revenue streams.

Chelsea received the green light for the project in January 2017 from the planning and development committee of Hammersmith & Fulham Council. Stamford Bridge’s capacity was set to be increased from 41,500 to about 60,000 following the completion of the project.

The revamp was scheduled to be finished by the start of the 2021-22 season, with Chelsea to play its home games at another stadium while redevelopment work was carried out. Chelsea’s new-look facility was designed by Herzog & De Meuron, with the redevelopment including a complete rebuild of parts of Stamford Bridge. The capacity for corporate guests was to be doubled to 9,200, with more than 13,000 extra general admissions seats added following the rebuild.

Chelsea said in its statement: “Chelsea Football Club acknowledges that the planning permission we obtained for a new stadium expires on 31st March 2020. We are grateful to all our fans and stakeholders, especially Hammersmith & Fulham Council, for their patience and understanding in the matter. We will continue to consider our options for a new stadium, should economic conditions improve.”