Chelsea have revealed the makeup of their new board, with Todd Boehly taking over from Bruce Buck as chairman, and have confirmed Marina Granovskaia’s departure.
Granovskaia’s exit underlines the change at Stamford Bridge since Roman Abramovich sold the club to a consortium fronted by Boehly and Clearlake Capital less than a month ago. The Russian-Canadian executive had in effect run Chelsea on Abramovich’s behalf in recent years and was responsible for looking after transfers and player contracts. She is close with the head coach, Thomas Tuchel, and has a reputation as a tough negotiator with agents and clubs.
Chelsea have said Granovskaia will continue to offer assistance until the end of this transfer window. But her departure will heap more responsibility on Boehly, with the co-owner set to operate as the interim sporting director until a replacement is found. “‘We thank Marina for her many years of excellent service to the club and wish her all the best in her future ventures,” Boehly said.
There has been a noticeable shift in Chelsea’s approach to transfers. They have not dug their heels in after learning of Romelu Lukaku’s desire to return to Internazionale. Boehly took charge of negotiations with Inter, who have agreed in principle to pay £7m plus add-ons to sign Lukaku on loan, after deciding it would be counterproductive to deny the striker a move.
Lukaku, who is taking a large pay cut to join Inter, struggled badly after joining Chelsea for £97.5m last summer. He struggled to fit into Thomas Tuchel’s system and has openly pined for a return to Inter. Tuchel backed the departure and Boehly, a co-owner of the LA Dodgers, is keen to back the German.
There was a desire to sort out the Lukaku situation as swiftly as possible. It has not turned into a saga and the challenge now will be for Chelsea to strengthen their attack, with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling a prominent target, and move quickly in the transfer market. It will be interesting to see how much influence Petr Cech, the technical and performance adviser, has this summer. The former Chelsea goalkeeper worked closely with Granovskaia, and insiders have praised his intelligence and diligence.
The hope will be that Chelsea, who intend to give Tuchel significant funds for signings, can act decisively after announcing their new board. Buck, a polarising figure in recent years, has agreed to step down at the end of this month. The American was appointed chairman after Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003.
“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,” Boehly said. “Working together, side-by-side, we are firmly committed to winning, both on and off the pitch. For us, that effort has begun.”
The new board includes Behdad Eghbali and José E Feliciano, co-controlling owners of Chelsea and founding partners of Clearlake; Mark Walter, the CEO and co-founder of Guggenheim Partners; Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss billionaire; Jonathan Goldstein, co-founder and CEO of Cain International; Barbara Charone, a celebrity publicist; Daniel Finkelstein, a Tory peer and Times columnist; and James Pade, a partner and managing director at Clearlake Capital.
Goldstein, who is listed as a co-owner of the club, is a British property developer and gives Chelsea a London presence. His knowledge of the property world could prove vital in attempts to renovate Stamford Bridge.
Eghbali and Feliciano signalled their determination to continue investment in the women’s team, offering support to the highly respected manager, Emma Hayes. “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,” they said. “‘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.”