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Chelsea bids for Battersea power station site


LONDON (Reuters) -- Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's Chelsea has bid for the London landmark Battersea Power Station site where they could build a 60,000-seater stadium, the Premier League soccer team said on Friday.

The derelict power station on the south bank of the Thames, a familiar site with its four white chimney stacks, "has the potential to become one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world," Chelsea said.

Champions League finalists Chelsea would like a larger stadium to allow them to compete with rivals at home and abroad. Stamford Bridge, their home since 1905, has a capacity of just under 42,000 - modest by comparison with other top clubs.

However, any move could run into opposition from fans.

Chelsea tried to buy the freehold of Stamford Bridge last year to clear the way for a possible move but the plan was rejected by the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO), a group of fans who acquired the freehold in 1993 to protect the ground from developers.

"We have many significant hurdles to address if we are to build a new stadium on the site, including winning the support of our fans, the CPO shareholders and local Wandsworth residents, as well as securing the approval of Wandsworth Council, the Greater London Authority and heritage authorities," Chelsea said in a statement.

Some local politicians say the Chelsea plans would not

create enough jobs and that securing planning approval for a

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stadium could prove too lengthy to be viable.

Previous reports have said the Battersea site could have a price tag of 300 to 400 million pounds ($486 to $648 million) and would be likely to attract interest from international bidders.

Announcing a bid for the 39-acre site with property development partner Almacantar, Chelsea said they had not made a final decision to leave Stamford Bridge and that they were not the only party interested in the site.

However, Chelsea set out ambitious plans for a new ground that would incorporate the power station's key features.

The power station, which featured on the cover of Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals, has been disused for three decades and a series of regeneration projects have come to grief.

It is currently in the hands of administrators Ernst & Young who are trying to recover debt on behalf of Lloyds Banking Group and Ireland's National Asset Management Agency.

Chelsea play in the FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday and meet Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on May 19.

Abramovich, who made his fortune in post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s, has transformed Chelsea since buying the club in 2003, helping them to win the Premier League three times.