Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Fulham Blow; Bates Rules out Ground-Sharing Plan Next Season

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Fulham Blow; Bates Rules out Ground-Sharing Plan Next Season

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT HUGHES;LEO SPALL

FULHAM suffered a blow today with the news that they cannot move into Stamford Bridge next season.

Ken Bates has ruled out the possibility of Chelsea starting to ground-share with their west London neighbours in the summer and Fulham seem certain to stay at Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road for another year.

Fulham were hopeful of moving in with Chelsea, and a one-year rolling deal was close to agreement, but that plan has been scuppered by the pitch redevelopment at Stamford Bridge.

Bates told Chelsea TV: "The pitch we are laying down now is not suitable for 50 games a year, it's only suitable for 25.

Chris Gleeson, who is in charge of all the Chelsea facilities and specifically planning the pitch, emailed me to say if you are ground sharing with Fulham next season, tell me now so that I can stop this pitch works and redesign it.

"So we said no we're not.

Our u1.5million facelift, or rather ground-lift, is going ahead as planned."

Bates stressed that Fulham could move in at a later date, but planning permission is a problem.

He added: "When we got our planning for the West Stand, one of the conditions was that only one football club could play here to put a limit on the amount of disruption to local residents. So only Chelsea can play here without the council's specific permission. The council have indicated it would take six months for them to get permission.

"If Loftus Road isn't good enough, where can they go?

We said that if the council were prepared to help Fulham out, we would ground-share.

We recognise that some Fulham fans wouldn't want it and some Chelsea fans won't either. It's our home, but what do you do when your neighbours are homeless?"

Meanwhile, Maik Taylor says he does not blame referee Graham Barber for his controversial sending off at Tottenham last night.

The Fulham goalkeeper was

dismissed for bringing down Simon Davies in the 1-1 draw. …

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