Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Chelsea Pitch Owners Share Presentation

Chelsea Pitch Owners Share Presentation

Back in October at a board meeting of the Chelsea Supporters Trust, I was delighted to be asked to collect the Chelsea Pitch Owners’ framed share - purchased by the CST following a vote at August’s AGM - on the Stamford Bridge pitch at half-time during November’s game with West Bromwich Albion.

Charles Rose, the Company Secretary of CPO, who approves purchases of shares, got in touch to advise that Jon Scammell of Chelsea’s marketing department would be in contact to make arrangements for the day. There’s a good reason for this: to collect a framed share, you need to leave your seat before half time and be able to get back into your section afterwards. You also need to access to the reception in the main East Stand and, accompanied by a steward, you essentially get bussed in. Also, and I didn’t realise this previously, they’ll only let you collect your share if you’re actually at the game!

Details duly handed on to the club, there was nothing to do but wait for the appointed date. I’m not generally fazed by events, but the Thursday before the game it suddenly dawned on me - I was going to be on the hallowed turf of Stamford Bridge… On Saturday… In front of about 30,000 people (i.e. those who haven’t nipped down to the bar for a swift one at half time)… And would likely be meeting a club legend!

No sooner did I arrive at the ground before the game, I was told by friends who sit around me that the “stewards had been looking for me” and said to tell me “they were coming for me at twenty five minutes to four”! However, I quickly reassured them that I wasn’t in any trouble and went down to my friendly block steward to tell her I’d got the message and would be out on the dot.

Stamford Bridge as seen from the Matthew Harding Upper

Chelsea went 2-0 up in a flash, as did the rest of the first half, until the appointed time arrived. I saw hands waving at me and slipped out of my seat to a chorus of ribald comments about my season ticket being withdrawn. A nice lady steward by the name of Kim took me quickly round to the East Stand entrance and said she would wait to accompany me back to the West Stand after the presentation. I was introduced to Fleur from marketing, who assists Jon Scammell. He had gone to round up a troop of small Chelsea fans who were to take part in a penalty shoot-out during the break. I also met fellow supporter Joshua Cross, who was also receiving a CPO share for his birthday. Fleur handed me over the share certificate which was beautifully framed and signed by Didier Drogba, no less. Jon arrived with the little ones and we were all ushered into the press room, where chefs were preparing the half-time grub for the assembled media. At least we hadn’t missed anything of the first half action as the match was being shown both in the East Stand Reception and in the press room. You could hear a roar from outside as the whistle blew at half-time and the stadium showed its approval for a professional first half demolition.

The journalists started to troop past us in into the press room. Neil Barnett turned up, to make the pitch-side presentations, then we were ushered out of the press room by Fleur. It was totally surreal to be walking up the tunnel on a matchday where our heroes had trod minutes previously, past the players’ dressing rooms and up the steps. The pitchside is covered in artificial turf – another surprise. I looked around the ground to see if I could spot friends, but the new floodlights were dazzling. I was also, at this point, extremely nervous. We hadn’t been told in advance who was going to be presenting the shares, and strolling up the tunnel came one of the Chelsea greats, a man whose song is still sung even though he last played for the club 40 years ago – Tommy Baldwin, the ‘leader of our team’ during the 60s and 70s.

Become a Chelsea Pitch Owner!

After the ad break, Neil Barnett began the presentation. Tommy stepped on to the green (real) grass to a huge ovation and added his to this season’s Chelsea shirts alongside all the other half-time guests. Then Josh was called forward to receive his share. And then it was the Chelsea Supporters Trust’s turn. Who knows, there may have been supporters in the ground who weren’t even aware until that moment that Chelsea has a supporters’ trust that they might considering joining and adding to our voice. I shook hands with Tommy over the share and we posed for a photograph – an excellent moment in posterity for the Trust.

I stepped off the pitch, shook hands with Jon and said thanks - he was rather distracted by his herd of over-excited nippers. Josh and I walked back down the tunnel to the press room, where the half-time refreshments were in full swing; I kept an eye out for Dan Levene of the Fulham Chronicle and also a CST member, but he subsequently told me that he’d stayed in the press box during the interval as many of his colleagues do and that he’d been waving at me when I was on the pitch but he’d formed the conclusion that I was “so dazzled by Tommy Baldwin” that I couldn’t see him!  Missing Dan was in no way compensated for by the sight of Garth Crooks nobly resisting the temptations of the buffet, although readers will be relieved to hear that in his case, the television cameras really do add 10lbs.

Kim was waiting patiently in the East Stand reception and escorted me back to the West Stand after what seemed to be the longest half-time I’d ever known. I was in fact slightly surprised to get back for the start of the second-half. I thanked her and made my way back to my seat where the share certificate bearing the name “The Chelsea Supporters Trust of Stamford Bridge” was proudly shown round, as it was at our Special General Meeting at the Finborough Arms after the game.

-- Theresa Magee, Chelsea Supporters Trust elected board member

The Annual General Meeting of Chelsea Pitch Owners is taking place this Friday 30th January in the Hollins Suite (Millennium Entrance of the West Stand) at Stamford Bridge at 11am. All shareholders are eligible to attend the meeting in person and are requested to email advising attendance.

For more information on the CPO and details of how to buy a signed and framed share that can be presented at Stamford Bridge visit the Chelsea Pitch Owners website.

The notice and agenda for this year’s meeting can be viewed here.

Chelsea Supporters Trust

'Making Your Voice Heard'

Twitter: @ChelseaSTrust

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