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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 00:58 GMT
Fulham's Chelsea move blocked
Stamford bridge - the home of Chelsea and possibly soon Fulham
Fulham could be sharing Stamford Bridge with Chelsea
Fulham's plans to groundshare with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next season look set to run out of time.

The proposed deal has not been agreed by the two clubs but has already been hit by red-tape.

The local council revealed it would take up to six months to consider overturning a ruling which bans the move.

Fulham are now likely to stay at Loftus Road, the home of Queens Park Rangers, for a second season.

The biggest obstacle to the groundshare plan with Chelsea is a planning rule which allows only one team to be based at Stamford Bridge.

The clubs will submit a joint application to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in the near future, requesting they change that rule.

But council spokesman Kevin Batt says even it the clubs act immediately a decision will not be made until August.

"We haven't yet received a planning application concerning Fulham," he said.

"If Chelsea put in a planning application, we would then consult local residents, a process which could take up to six months."

Locals are almost certain to be opposed to the Cottagers moving in as it would double the amount of games at the Bridge.

Fulham and Chelsea will reach a decision on the groundsharing proposals by 1 March, the deadline by which Fulham must make their request if they want another year at Loftus Road.

A groundshare with Chelsea would provide Fulham with a stop-gap while they search for a site for a new stadium.

Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed has abandoned plans to return to Craven Cottage after redevelopment costs increased to more than 100m.

In October, Al Fayed discussed the possibility of buying into Chelsea Village in return for a deal allowing the Cottagers to play at the Bridge.

But the talks ended with Fulham announcing they had turned down an offer to purchase 9.9% of the club for 15m, in return for a 25-year groundsharing deal with further profit-linked payments.


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10 Feb 03 | Eng Prem
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