The Pros and Cons of Having Chelsea FC as a Neighbour

Residents and businesses around Stamford Bridge have mixed views

Ermira Mataj, manager at Bruschetta, saysshe wished it was a matchday 'every day'Ermira Mataj, manager at Bruschetta, saysshe wished it was a matchday 'every day'

January 2, 2024

Boasting a capacity of roughly 40,000 people and located just around the corner from Fulham Broadway station, Stamford Bridge brings a particular buzz to the area on matchdays. Ermira Mataj, 39, Manager at the Italian restaurant Bruschetta situated a stone’s throw from the ground, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) she wished there was a game ‘every day’.

Asked whether it is typically walk-ins or bookings which fill the restaurant out on when a match is on, Ms Mataj said, “We get booked as well. It depends who we are going to play with. If it’s a big game like Newcastle, Manchester, Arsenal, a few weeks before.”

One local fan, who wished to remain anonymous, praised the atmosphere as ‘very nice’ around Fulham Broadway when Chelsea is playing. “I love it when the games come. They bring a very good atmosphere. Everybody’s happy,” they said.

One area of concern they raised however was in relation to transport. Due to the number of people travelling to the matches, they said there are typically problems for most of the day.

This point was echoed by several other residents the LDRS spoke to living near the stadium. Sophie, 23, who did not want to give her surname, said, “It’s quite busy. I often find the District line changing at Earl’s Court is absolutely packed, so it’s difficult to get on sometimes and a bit unpleasant. So there could be a few more tubes to help with the amount of people.”

Zeina Barakat, 36, has lived in the area for 11 years. She said due to how busy it gets when games are on, if she is needing to use her car, she will plan to do so before the crowds descend. She added there have also been issues with litter post-match. While she said she has somewhat gotten used to it, she added everyone’s complaints revolve around the same issues.

“It’s quite often that they have a game here, so it’s not like occasionally you forget about it. It’s kind of regular. I got used to it as I’m telling you, but sometimes when people want to come over, if they know there’s a game, they postpone it or they just don’t come at all.”

The Britannia Gate entrance to Stamford Bridge
The Britannia Gate entrance to Stamford Bridge

Olivia J, 33, meanwhile said she and her family tend to avoid coming into Fulham Broadway when matches are on. Overall, though, she said she is not particularly affected. “It really doesn’t bother me much at all,” she said.

Concerns around littering and transport are often expected for those living and working near football stadiums, especially those with the capacity of Stamford Bridge. The crowds are however not always seen as a bad thing, and some of those the LDRS met spoke favourably not just of the influx of people, but also Chelsea’s management of the situation.

Cesar, 77, said he is a Chelsea fan, though that he typically goes to the pub rather than the ground to watch the games. On whether he has any issues with the crowds, he said, “Not really, not really, not a problem. Many people are around when the game’s going on, but that’s not a problem.”

Sophie, while noting she has only lived in the area for several months, said that while it is busier when Chelsea is playing, “I wouldn’t say it’s rowdy or anything. Not that I’ve experienced so far.” And Ms Barakat, despite her experiences with littering and the effects of the crowds, said she thinks ‘they [Chelsea] do the best they can’.

Stamford Bridge is located on Fulham Road, beyond Fulham Broadway station
Stamford Bridge is located on Fulham Road, beyond Fulham Broadway station

Ms Mataj in particular spoke highly of the way Chelsea communicates and offers support. On how the restaurant prepares for days when there are games at Stamford Bridge, she said, “Since we are here to be honest we have security three hours before the match, during the match and three hours after the match. So, no. We didn’t have any problems in the area here.”

She continued to say the Security Manager from the club will come to the restaurant to ask if they are okay, and check in to ask if they are having any issues.

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said there are parking restrictions in-place on matchdays to protect local neighbourhoods, and that the local authority’s contractors carry out special cleaning shifts before, during and after each game to keep the streets as clean as possible.

They added residents can report any issues with littering via the council’s Report It app.

Chelsea FC was also approached for comment.

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter

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