Wise returns to CPO board

Former Blues captain Wise was announced as one of two new directors

of the supporter-led company which owns the freehold of Stamford

Bridge. The 44-year-old CPO vice-president accepted an invitation

from the three existing board members to return to the role he held

when the company was first formed in the mid-1990s. CPO chairman

Steve Frankham said in a statement: “Dennis is delighted to rejoin

as a director. “As a hugely-popular former skipper of the Blues, he

has a passion for Chelsea, and in particular for the fans, and sees

this as an opportunity to reconnect with his football ‘family’.”

Wise’s reappointment came less than a month after Chelsea owner

Roman Abramovich failed to convince CPO shareholders to sell him

the Stamford Bridge freehold at an extraordinary general meeting of

the company. Abramovich’s offer had been seen as a precursor to a

move to a new 60,000-seater stadium but his proposal received 61.6%

of the vote when 75% was required. Frankham, who succeeded Richard

King as CPO chairman in the wake of the stormy EGM, also announced

the company’s annual general meeting would take place a month later

than planned on January 20 because he was unable to attend during

December. Frankham was not expecting Chelsea to return with a

revised offer – or indeed their previous one – before the AGM. He

said: “We do not anticipate firm proposals from the club being

received in the next few weeks regarding the freehold, but CPO

shareholders will be informed once any proposals have been received

and reviewed.” Frankham also admitted CPO had exceeded its

authority over the number of new shares issued in the company after

Chelsea announced their proposal to buy the Stamford Bridge

freehold. There were angry claims at last month’s EGM that most of

those shares had been hoovered up by those who planned to vote yes

and the meeting was almost adjourned as a result. Frankham said:

“Since the general meeting, we have become aware that 1,686 of

those shares were issued beyond the authority granted by CPO

shareholders at the 2010 CPO annual general meeting. “This was an

oversight, but we have been informed by our legal advisers that the

issue of shares is still valid.” The ‘Say No CPO’ (SNCPO) campaign,

who spearheaded opposition to Abramovich’s plans, had asked the

Takeover Panel to investigate the conduct of the CPO board but

Frankham insisted today no probe had been instigated. He and fellow

directors Rick Glanvill and Bob Sewell will all stand for

re-election at the AGM along with Wise and the other new board

member, Gray Smith. Smith, a corporate law partner in the London

firm Mishcon de Reya, is understood to have voted ‘no’ at the EGM

and provided legal advice to SNCPO after – but not before – the

vote. Frankham also revealed on Thursday that the AGM would include

a vote to expand the number of directors from its current maximum

of five to seven. SNCPO last week snubbed an invitation for one of

their number to join the board, although one of their leading

figures, James Greenbury, recently confirmed he would consider

standing for a directorship at the AGM. Responding to Frankham’s

various announcements on Thursday, he tweeted: “Behind the

smokescreen of the Dennis Wise appointment, this is a desperately

disappointing statement by Steve Frankham. “Not only does he

whitewash the dodgy 2,000 shares, but he plans to reopen sales of

new shares, allowing the club to push on to get 75% of the vote.”