Chelsea: Council stadium offer "nothing new"

European champions Chelsea dismissed an offer by the local council to discuss expanding their Stamford Bridge stadium as "empty rhetoric" on Friday, a day after a proposed move to a new home fell through.

The Premier League club's hopes of building a new 60,000-seater site at London's iconic Battersea Power Station suffered a blow on Thursday when a rival Malaysian consortium was named as preferred bidder to redevelop the site.

The local council responded by pledging its support to help keep Chelsea at the home they have had since being founded in 1905.

"The door is open and the council is again ready to sit down and discuss how Stamford Bridge can be appropriately upgraded so that it is fit for one of Europe's leading football clubs," said Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader Nicholas Botterill.

However Chelsea, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, dismissed the council statement as offering no practical solutions.

"It appears to be the same empty rhetoric we have heard before. Nothing new," a club executive said.

Stamford Bridge has a capacity of just under 42,000 - small by comparison with many of Chelsea's European rivals.

That capacity is reduced even further for safety reasons when the club play major Champions League matches because the number of television broadcast trucks restricts access to the stadium.

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay told Reuters last month that the club's preferred option was to stay and expand the stadium but that did not appear economically viable and would be complicated by planning issues.

A joint bid by Malaysia's Sp Setia Bhd and the property arm of Sime Darby Bhd was named as preferred bidder on Thursday to develop the derelict Battersea site on the banks of the river Thames in a 400 million-pounds deal.

Chelsea appear to be hoping the Malaysians get cold feet over the next month when they have a chance to assess the risks associated with the deal and decide whether to proceed.