Jose Mourinho is not easily impressed. The mercurial Chelsea manager is known for winning titles in almost every league in Europe, but not for idle flattery. So when he floats the potential of Chelsea playing part of a Premier League season in the United States, people will listen.
After Chelsea’s draw with PSG in Charlotte, North Carolina — a game played in front of 61,224 fans at Bank of America Stadium — the special one was impressed by the American support, especially given that it was a preseason tune-up. “I think it’s not normal to bring 60,000 fans to a friendly match,” the Portuguese coach said after the game.
He even speculated that Chelsea could potentially play regular-season games in the United States in the future. Chelsea is currently looking for a temporary home due to a scheduled three-season refurbishment of their home ground.
Mourinho added, “Maybe when we don’t have Stamford Bridge for a couple of years we can come here and play a couple of matches in the Premier League….We know the support is fantastic.”
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich recently unveiled an audacious $800-million dollar plan to rebuild Stamford Bridge. He was considering a number of alternative sites around London, but in concert with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, recently unveiled plans for a complete makeover of the club’s historic ground on it’s current site.
Herzog & de Meuron is known for ultra-modern stadiums like Munich’s Allianz Arena, and the famous Beijing “Bird’s Nest,” but the new Stamford Bridge will be distinctly different. The new stadium, which will increase seating capacity from 42,000 to 60,000, will take as its inspiration local historical and urban references, including Westminster Abbey and London’s Victorian railway viaducts. Architects even plan to incorporate a modern version of the original Stamford bridge that originally stood on the site, dating from the early 15th Century.
It is not yet clear where Chelsea will be playing during the three seasons the project will take to complete, although multipurpose Wembley Stadium and Twickenham, a London rugby ground, are reportedly being considered. Of course Tottenham is also in the process of building a new stadium, and Wembley is considered a temporary option for their temporary relocation as well. Some have even speculated that the rival clubs could share the ground for a season or more.
Although Mourinho understands the difficulty of leaving their current home, he also appreciates the need for an upgrade. He recently suggested, “I know the club needs to make the next step and that is a new Stamford Bridge.”
Although his speculation about future American regular season games for Chelsea was probably no more a whimsical nugget for the club’s American fans, it certainly provides an interesting possibility.
If the and NBA and NFL can play regular-season games in London, why couldn’t the EPL play a regular-season game in America?
If Jose Mourinho approves, we can all dream….