Comment: Chelsea’s Twickenham invasion would be sacrilegious to rugby fans and a dagger to town’s heart

Will Kelleher gives the case against Chelsea finding a temporary home at Twickenham.

Here they come. The Russian oligarch-funded and historically-inept blue army from the King’s Road are on their way.

“Next stop Twickenham!” yells the grinning multi-billionaire as his private yacht ploughs along the Thames to moor on the riverside. Chelsea are coming. And they’re not welcome.

Twickenham’s 82,000 behemoth of an international rugby ground is their target, 2016 the date, as Chelsea look for a potential stomping ground as they redevelop Stamford Bridge.

If the RFU allow football to be played at Twickenham it would be a dagger to the heart of the cabbage patch, the area and to rugby itself. Old Billy Williams himself would turn in his grave.

In its 114-year history rugby HQ has never played host to a football match, and with good reason.

Allowing football to be played during the 2016-17 season, with Premier League home fixtures and various European and domestic cup games besides, would ruin the famous surface.

Murrayfield has ceded control of its sole rugby presence and any fan will be able to tell you that the pitch is a catastrophic mess.

The grass would be cut short for football. With this shorter turf, come the Autumn Internationals or the Six Nations, the damage will be plain to see.

Just look at how Wembley has suffered by selling its soul to the NFL.

Far from just being a horticultural nightmare, it would be hugely disruptive to Twickenham itself.

“Far from just being a horticultural nightmare, it would be hugely disruptive to Twickenham itself.”

Regular road closures, congestion and a police presence would not be welcome to residents, especially on a Tuesday night if Chelsea had the pleasure of hosting Millwall in a cup replay.

Oh and what happens when Harlequins are playing at the Stoop at 3pm on a Saturday as Chelsea supporters flock to Twickenham? You can bet your ‘bottom rouble’ that football fans would take precedence getting to their adopted home.

And it’s not the individual fans I am worried about – it’s the segregation, the crowd tension and intimidating atmosphere on my streets that would make me feel a stranger in the town I grew up in.

Chelsea’s Twickenham invasion would be sacrilegious for many rugby fans. The ground owes its special nature to the fact that it’s no one’s home but England’s. We cannot lose that.

When Roman and his blue-shirted besiegers come a-knocking I’ll be right there manning the barricades.

Picture courtesy of researchtalk, with thanks

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