“As custodians of Chelsea FC, we now begin executing our long-term vision and plan for the Club, creating an outstanding experience for its passionate, loyal fans, and continuing to challenge for top honours in line with Chelsea FC’s decorated history.”
Todd Boehly’s words when announcing Chelsea’s new board of directors certainly made it seem that a new era at Stamford Bridge has now truly started. “Working together, side-by-side, we are firmly committed to winning, both on and off the pitch. For us, that effort has begun.”
The composition confirmed that Marina Granovskaia would be departing the Blues, though the Blues’ former transfer chief has agreed that she will remain available for the duration of the transfer to aid the transition. Regardless of how Granovskaia’s abilities are assessed, whether that be as Best Club Director in European Football or as the figure the oversaw Antonio Rudiger’s depart the club with no replacement in place, there is no doubting the vacuum she leaves.
Boehly has wasted little time in making his role crucial. The American may be a co-owner in a larger consortium, but his continued presence at Stamford Bridge over the last two months has made him the obvious face of ownership. Having been confirmed as chairman of the board and interim director, Boehly not only has the responsibility for the big decisions in west London, but it has also been very publically announced.
Of course, it appears that Boehly has already been taking charge of some negotiations, including for Romelu Lukaku’s Inter Milan return. A necessary deal ahead of pre-season and one that can perhaps begin to allow room to manoeuvre in the forward positions where Chelsea’s interest appears to have been for the likes of Raheem Sterling, Richarlison and Ousmane Dembele. Without the burden of being part of the group that spent £97 million on Lukaku, the American appears to have been able to do a deal relatively swiftly. How successful the loan deal is will be dependent on the financials and whether the problem returns in 12 months time.
While Boehly will not be castigated for Chelsea’s previous mistakes, he is now burdened with fixing them. Thomas Tuchel has made it clear he feels the squad needs a rebuild, and the areas of the squad with deficiencies are already obvious. It will now be Boehly’s task to help get long-term deals over the line and to find new ones.
Nobody is under the illusion that the club can operate as it did under Roman Abramovich, but the ambitions the new owners have outlined will come with high expectations. Co-controlling owners of Chelsea, Behdad Eghbali and José E. Feliciano, once again noted the intention to back both Tuchel and Emma Hayes and the aim to win titles within the board announcements.
They said: “As the new era of the Boehly-Clearlake ownership begins, we are excited to build a championship organisation and grow Chelsea FC as a global platform. We look forward to backing Thomas Tuchel, Emma Hayes and their teams and will provide proactive, unbending support to make Chelsea’s loyal fans and our partners proud.”
Social media is already rife with frustration at the pace of Chelsea’s transfer business, and that hints at the pressure to get things right over the next two months. While Boehly is a temporary fixture as the club’s transfer chief, it will go a long way to forming his relationship with supporters and club staff alike. Tuchel repeatedly spoke highly of his relationship with Granovskaia and Petr Cech, who was not referred to in the club’s statement on Thursday.
The Blues intend to name a full-time replacement for the sporting director role, with Atletico Madrid’s Andrea Berta touted and former Liverpool chief Michael Edwards also linked. With the pressure to act swiftly, however, it is likely Boehly will be involved in many of Chelsea’s deals.
With no experience in European football, Boehly is backing himself amidst a difficult task. He will have to learn quickly and be successful as Chelsea’s rivals in Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham, and Arsenal have already acted this summer with impressive business.
His time in the role of a sporting director may only be short, but it could hardly come at a more important time. This summer will set the tone for a new era, as Chelsea’s task in the league only becomes more difficult.