Chelsea make Stamford Bridge hotel available for NHS staff as Roman Abramovich makes rooms available for free again

CHELSEA will open up the Stamford Bridge hotel for free for NHS workers – just as they did at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Owner Roman Abramovich is going to cover the cost of rooms for staff to stay when working shifts at nearby hospitals or simply in need of somewhere to stay after the country went into its third national lockdown.

The gesture also sees key workers having their breakfast provided at the Copthorne Hotel, opposite the West London ground.

Chelsea said: "Many of the medical staff will be working long hours and may not be able to travel home or would have to make long commutes at a time when the virus is so transmissible.

"The rooms will be initially available until the next government review in mid-February.

"Millennium Hotels and Resorts, who manage the hotel, are supportive and assisting the club in providing this service to the NHS."

Covid-19 cases are rapidly rising in London, with 14,892 new infections confirmed on Wednesday.

NHS bosses warned the capital's hospitals could have a shortfall of almost 5,500 beds by January 19.

The Blues put on a similar initiative in the first lockdown last spring and once again are among the first clubs to act in the latest lockdown.

Bristol City's Ashton Gate stadium is one of the seven mass vaccination centres due to open to deliver jabs next week.

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The Sun revealed Leeds became the first Premier League club to hand over its Elland Road facilities for the unprecedented vaccine push.

Villa Park, home of Aston Villa, is one of the possible venues to be added while Spurs have offered their new ground as well.

In March, billionaire Abramovich, 54, threw open the doors of his 72-room hotel at Stamford Bridge for health staff to use free of charge.

He also used the 42,000-capacity stadium's large kitchens to prepare meals for key workers.

And, as revealed by SunSport, it was those acts of kindness that helped convince the Chelsea players to agree to a ten per cent wage cut.

Despite the current restrictions, elite sport is allowed to continue.

Frank Lampard's side face Morecambe – whose players are out of quarantine – at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup third round on Sunday before a short journey to West London rivals Fulham next Friday.

Read our Chelsea live blog for the very latest news from the Bridge

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