Partners at Skadden have been shifting uncomfortably in their Brioni suits this week, after the Sun newspaper rounded on the firm's partners for trying to force the sale of Chelsea's Stamford Bridge Ground.

Bruce Buck, Head of Skadden in Europe, is also Chairman of Chelsea Football Club. The Club's ground at Stamford Bridge is amongst the most expensive real estate in London and, to protect it from being flogged off to developers, it belongs to a company owned by the fans, Chelsea Pitch Owners PLC ("CPO"). Which is something of a headache for the Club, which would like to buy it, and then sell it on for a stonking profit and move to a bigger stadium.

Buck wrote an open letter last September saying that it was in Chelsea's best interests for CPO to sell it the ground. Clearly many fans disagreed. Despite Buck's offer of priority season tickets and a place on a "roll of honour" for CPO shareholders who voted in favour of the transaction, the motion was defeated.

So far, so unremarkable. But then the Sun discovered that a large number of shares in CPO had been acquired just before the vote by friends of the Club's owners, in an apparent bid to try to swing things their way. Buck said that "we do not know who bought the shares" - which seems surprising, given that Pete Coulton, one of Buck's partners at Skadden, spent £10,000 on 100 of the shares just before trading was suspended. Is the firm unique in the City in not requiring its lawyers to get partnership approval for this sort of thing? More shares were acquired by a certain Brandon Buck. Who may have nothing to do with Bruce, although he does rather coincidentally have the same name as his son.

    Chelsea fans hear that Skadden partners are trying to sell their ground

There's no suggestion of financial impropriety, and there's nothing to stop the Club's board from asking their mates to pile in and influence the outcome of a vote. But it looks a bit shabby, and has enraged some fans. Skadden would do well to remember the nightmare faced by Allen & Overy when it acted for Malcolm Glazier and was besieged by angry Manchester United supporters.

A spokeswoman for the firm refused to comment.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 27 January 12 08:30

Lawyers being shabby and acting within the law, but not within the spirit of the novel. Great marketing Skadden, keep it up.

Anonymous 27 January 12 13:12

"A place on the roll of honour"?

Ha ha ha!

Yeah, right. Hand Buck et al a £700 million asset for pennies and get your name on a bit of paper in return.

What a delightful firm.

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