In the dim and distant past, when Battersea Power Station was more ruin than construction site, a proposal was shown off that would have seen the old building become a major football stadium.

It was only one of many attempts to do something with the empty building, but it is probably one of the more curious ideas.

It was also backed by a Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, who was eyeing the site for an enlarged Chelsea football club stadium.

Part of his motivation for a new site came after the football club failed in their bid to buy back the freehold of the 42,000-capacity Stamford Bridge from the supporters group Chelsea Pitch Owners.

So he was looking around for somewhere new to play with, and what could be better than 39 acres of derelict site close to the centre of town and its own jetty for his speedboat to moor up against?

When originally mooted back in late 2008, the plans called for the interior of the stadium to be gutted and the old turbine call to become the space for the football pitch, but this was just not big enough to hold the planned stadium.

So, in 2012, much larger plans were announced, which would have seen the mighty power station essentially reduced to mere ornament for one side of the stadium.


Chelsea, which teamed up with developers Almacantar, said at the time that it wanted to build “one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world”.

The 60,000 seater stadium would have sliced the side wall off the power station and turned the turbine hall into, basically, nothing more than support for rows of seating.

They also said they would be likely to part-fund the Northern line extension which is now under construction.

It was however speculative as the administrators of the site had already indicated that they were minded to sell it to a Malaysian group, so this was a last ditch attempt to spoil the winning bid in favour of the football club.

The plans were submitted, but the rival bid from Malaysia secured the site instead, turning the area around the power station into a cluster of glass boxes


The proposals subsequently vanished from the Chelsea FC press release archive as if they had never existed.

Incidentally, the original football ground at Stamford Brook had terraces made from soil left over from the construction of the Picadilly Line underground tunnels.


Property Week – Abramovich plays Battersea blinder

Chelsea FC Website – via wayback archive

Wandsworth Guardian

Chelsea Pitch Owners

Up in Smoke: The Failed Dreams of Battersea Power Station by Peter Watts

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One comment on “Unbuilt London: Battersea Power Station’s football stadium
  1. Lorenzo says:

    Hi Ian

    The Up in Smoke book really is most excellent. It is available direct from the publisher too, there is no need to buy it from Amazon. When I bought mine I got a little personalised thank you note, but I notice they are now offering signed copies.

    (Click on the image of the book)

    They say they plan to publish mostly (only?) London books, although I’m not so drawn to their next offering (London Pub Cats).

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