LONDON: The entire future of FA Cup holders Chelsea was cast into doubt as owner Roman Abramovich reviewed his investment commitment to the club in the escalating row over his visa status.
The immediate outcome is a freeze on plans for a new £1bn, 60,000-seat stadium at Stamford Bridge. Abramovich is unwilling to invest in a major project in a country where he is not allowed work.
The 51-year-old’s UK investor visa expired some weeks ago amid increased diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
Chelsea issued a statement saying the club had delayed work on Stamford Bridge because of “the current unfavourable investment climate”.
It added: “No further pre-construction design and planning work will occur. The club does not have a time frame set for reconsideration of its decision.”
Plans were under consideration to move Chelsea matches to Wembley stadium for the four years it would take to redevelop Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s strategy was based on the concept that only building an expanded new stadium could help the club keep pace with the likes of Manchester City and United, Arsenal and Tottenham.