Chelsea have been warned by former chief executive Trevor Birch that uncertainty surrounding their stadium redesign and the respective futures of Antonio Conte and Eden Hazard leaves them running the risk of having “no stadium, no manager and no star player”.
Plans to upgrade Stamford Bridge into a new 60,000-seater venue have been put on ice while club owner Roman Abramovich works on renewing his UK visa.
With that situation proving to be an unwelcome distraction, the Blues also have to contend with issues regarding their managerial situation – with Conte facing reports of an impending exit as talks with former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri continue.
Star turn Hazard is also sparking unwelcome transfer rumours, amid fresh links to Spanish giants Real Madrid, leading Chelsea to fight fires which are threatening to undermine their efforts for 2018-19.
Birch told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on goings on in west London: “The Chelsea fans now face the prospect of no stadium, no manager and no star player if Eden Hazard moves to Real Madrid.”
He added: “I wasn't really surprised [by the stadium news] because it's obviously linked to the visa situation.
“There have been some rising costs in the stadium and it's a difficult project to deliver - but I think this is clearly Roman upping the ante in the spat with the Home Office.
“We've moved into a different phase now.
“If the visa issue isn't resolved I think anything could happen. I think there's obviously a great deal of concern around at the moment.
“But I think it's eminently sellable as a club, based in west London. With TV rights increasing, if Manchester United is valued at over £3 billion I think Chelsea is valued at £1.5 billion - and very attractive.”
While considering Chelsea to still be a very attractive asset to Abramovich or any potential future owner, Birch does believe that the Blues have let themselves down with their recent transfer dealings.
He added: “Of course to maintain the value of his [Abramovich] investment he needs to invest in players - and he didn't.”