Stamford Bridge
Chelsea's home ground, Stamford Bridge, is set for a major overhaulGetty Images

So it's finally happening – or at least the first step in the process that will see Stamford Bridge redeveloped into a new stadium on the site that has been home to Chelsea supporters for 110 years.

Chelsea FC have held an exhibition outlining what they call "consultative" plans for the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, which could cost upwards of £600m according to The Daily Mail.

Of course the first piece of good news is that there is now a clear intention by the club to remain at Stamford Bridge, the previous suggestions of a move away from this site having been met with some ire by many Chelsea supporters some three or four years ago.

It appears Chelsea FC have learned their lesson and are now seeking approval from both the local community and the match-going supporters — two groups who usually sit at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of self-interest.

Chelsea working with the local community, not against it

There are several points to note about the exhibition. First is the attempt and lengths the club appear to be making to assuage any fears and resistance from the local community.

The key issue of increasing the capacity to 60,000 with supporters who will then spread out on to an already crowded Fulham Road and Fulham Broadway Tube station seems to have been resolved by building a walkway directly between the North stand and the station.

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho will soon have a new Stamford Bridge to work his magicGetty Images

In addition, a new bridge over the railway to the east of the ground will allow access/egress from both North and South.

Interestingly, the Club seem to be going back to the future by "fixing" the original Stamford Bridge from the Middle Ages, which disappeared with the arrival of the railway, and the new bridge will be a key feature of the re-development.

The net result will reduce the outflow on to Fulham Road to levels lower than are currently experienced, surely a massive benefit to supporters and locals alike.

The other concern is the issue of accommodating a 60,000 capacity stadium on such a small footprint without impinging on the existing local community.

To satisfy this issue, the club will look to keep the existing height of the current stadium and build down to allow more seats. Furthermore they will knock down the existing hotels and retain the space between the current West Stand and the Oswald Stoll buildings.

The local community should be satisfied with these well thought through (and very expensive) measures and, after all, the football club has been on their doorstep long before they were born let alone forked out for their des res.

Perhaps Chelsea had this in mind when referring to the long history of the club in the locality and the huge weekly attendances over that period of time, ranging from 85,000 to the current 41,000.

The next generation

But what of the supporters whose very home Stamford Bridge represents?

It is good to see the club focusing on increasing the number of seats for youngsters – the next generation of Chelsea supporters and the future lifeblood of the club.

In addition there will be an increase in access and seats for disabled supporters and greater access for supporters living in the area – the local fan base.

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard won't be there but Chelsea's supporters will be in full force at the new Stamford BridgeGetty

Both the number of season ticket holders and the corporate fans will rise (hopefully the latter and the increase in match day income will allow the club to keep ticket prices at the levels they are now).

The corporate fans will be housed in two sides of the middle of three tiers around the stadium (as they are now) rather than all of the way around like Wembley and the Emirates Stadium, which has proved a sure-fire atmosphere killer.

The visible plans of course raise more questions than answers such as, will the new stadium accommodate "safe standing" and will there be a single mass tier at one end (hopefully the old Shed end)? But all in all, it is pleasing to see the club are clearly thinking along the right lines as far as the supporters are concerned.

Obviously the point of this exhibition is to garner the view of supporters and the community and it is hoped any questions raised will be answered satisfactorily in due course, and consultation with the supporters will continue.

Exciting times ahead

Undoubtedly the plans at this stage reveal a hugely ambitious and exciting vision for a new Stamford Bridge. The design of the new stadium, by the architects who designed the impressive Allianz Arena in Munich and the iconic "Birds nest" stadium in the Beijing Olympics is unique among football stadia.

Drawing heavily from the influence of Westminster Abbey (which has historical connections with the club), brick buttresses will feature prominently.

In doing, so the stadium will be in keeping with the local architecture rather than being a space age soulless identikit bowl, which seems to be the current fashion.

The club seem keen to stress they and the stadium are very much part of the local community and they can grow with the community and blend in. The layout also has a nod to the original layout of Stamford Bridge from 1939, a nice historical touch.

The link with Westminster Abbey is pertinent, as the Dean of Salisbury Cathedral alludes to in an introductory statement in the exhibition.

What is envisioned here is a cathedral to football. It will be a place where Chelsea supporters will gather to worship their heroes for many years to come. This seems appropriate as for so many of us "Chelsea is our religion"'.

David 'Stamford Chidge' Chidgey presents the award winning Chelsea FanCast radio show and podcast which can be heard every Monday at 19.00 on mixlr.com/chelsea-fancast/or downloaded from ITunes, Soundcloud and chelseafancast.com. Follow us on twitter @StamfordChidge and @ChelseaFanCast