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Stamford BridgeChelsea FC Museum, London

Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea. This image is copyright free

Football's rise is linked closely with the Industrial Revolution. The nineteenth century's new urban population generally enjoyed higher wages and more leisure time. Sports of all kind boomed in popularity, with football taking the lead. Huge crowds attending football matches could only do so by using the new rail network. Many teams built stadiums close to railway stations. Tottenham built their White Hart Lane stadium right next to a station, and Arsenal moved from Woolwich to Highbury in north London to be close to a station on the Piccadilly Underground line. Football historian David Goldblatt describes the central role that railways played in Chelsea FC's creation: "Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's ground, was consciously built next to the Underground stop Fulham Broadway. Having established a ground and transport links first, Stamford Bridge's owners simply created Chelsea as a club to use them." (The Ball Is Round P53 - 54)

 

While Chelsea demonstrates football's early economics, the club has continued to graphically illustrate the strange nature of large scale sports finance. Wray Vamplew has written: "Many sports clubs do not obey the economic rules of the game because they are utility maximisers rather than profit maximisers, in that they are willing to sacrifice profits for the sake of winning games and championships." (Professional Sport In Britain 1875 - 1914)

This is certainly true of Chelsea in recent years, under the ownership of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 and poured uneconomic amounts of money into his club, so much so that in 2005, Chelsea posted the biggest annual loss for a club in English football history, at £140 million. It is not just at Chelsea that the profit motive seems to be set aside in favour of "higher things". As David Goldblatt wrote in 2006: "It has proved almost impossible by legal means to make a football club profitable. The stock market does not lie: of the twenty two clubs that have been listed in the UK only twelve remain, and those that do have consistently traded at a mere fraction of their initial offer price" (The Ball Is Round P685). Before the industrial period, rich men would often put their money into churches. It seems that today's super rich put their money into Premiership football clubs. Many commentators have talked of football as a kind of lay religion, in the way it brings large numbers of people together and takes them into a heightened emotional state in the adoration of their chosen idols. The rich, as they always have in history, continue to put their money towards higher things, which today for some of the world's richest people means football.

Chelsea FC Museum at Stamford Bridge has displays and memorabilia telling the story of Chelsea from its inception to modern times. There are video presentations and interactive games. The museum can be visited as part of Chelsea's stadium tour, or as a visit on its own.

 

Address: Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, London SW6 1HS

Directions: Stamford Bridge is on the Fulham Road in west London. There is a small car park at the stadium. Alternatively use Fulham Broadway Underground station - the station that explains Stamford Bridge's existence here in the first place! Click here for an interactive map centred on Stamford Bridge.

Opening Times: Please use contact details below.

Access: Contact disabled department on 020 7915 1950. Disabled parking is available at the stadium but is limited and should be booked first. There is a drop off point at the main entrance. Tour and museum are accessible, but you are advised to contact the stadium first.

Contact:

telephone: 0871 984 1955 from UK

telephone: 0044 207386 9373 from outside the UK

web site: http://www.chelseafc.com/page/StadiumTours6Box/0,,10268~1328529,00.html

 

 

 

 

 

©2010InfoBritain (updated 11/12)