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4 Mar, 2022 10:09

Granovskaia future under new Chelsea owners ‘linked to Abramovich’

Groups interested in buying the club are said to be open to working with the Director known as 'the most powerful woman in football'
Granovskaia future under new Chelsea owners ‘linked to Abramovich’

Hugely influential Chelsea Director Marina Granovskaia could retain her role at the Premier League giants if she cuts her ties to outgoing owner Roman Abramovich, reports have said amid claims that a group led by Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss could bid for the club as soon as Sunday.

Russian-Canadian businesswoman Granovskaia has been widely recognized as one of the key figures in Chelsea's immense success as one of Abramovich's most trusted colleagues since he took over in 2003, helping the club to win every major trophy and playing a particularly prominent part in transfers and contract negotiations.

Moscow State University-educated Granovskaia, who worked with Abramovich before he changed the face of English football, is wanted by potential new buyers eyeing the club after Abramovich sensationally revealed his plans on Wednesday, Telegraph Sport has said.

Arguably the most powerful person at Stamford Bridge aside from Abramovich, Granovskaia's departure would deal a huge blow to Chelsea, losing the shrewd boardroom mainstay who has played a crucial part in huge deals including the recent arrivals of stars such as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku.

The outlet said that it had been contacted within hours of breaking news of Abramovich's sale by agents of Chelsea players asking about Granovskaia, adding that the length of her association with Abramovich "would need to be addressed" if she stays at the club and suggesting that she could stay on in the same position with less power.

“Whenever you talk to anybody about Chelsea, Marina’s name comes up and usually in glowing terms," a source was quoted as confiding.

"The key issue will be whether she can be team Chelsea under a different owner or will always be team Roman.”

Sources close to Granovskaia are also said to believe that she would not take a job at another English club or entertain the prospect of a role abroad.

“I’m proud to say I have a very good relationship with Marina and she is somebody I consider to be, 100%, exceptional," said Federico Pastorello, the agent for Lukaku, who returned to Chelsea for a club record $130 million before the start of this season.

"She really is one of the best. There is an image of Marina but I’m lucky to know her in a different way.

"She is also a very sweet person and quite funny. She’s devoted to the job and to Chelsea but I really admire how she balances that with how she manages her life outside football.”

Wyss will almost certainly be aware of Granovskaia's standing in the game. Together with Todd Boehly, a part-owner of Major League Baseball team the Los Angeles Dodgers, the philanthropist has 'stolen a march' on rival bidders and could make an opening offer by the end of this weekend, the Guardian has reported.

Boehly reportedly had a bid of around $2.9 billion bid for Chelsea rejected in 2019 and is said to have been joined by Wyss in California to work on their proposal.

Abramovich is known to be keen to sell Chelsea quickly, although Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick that the Russian's asking price was too high in the aftermath of the announcement that the club was open to bids.

The 55-year-old reportedly faces the possibility of sanctions from the UK government and may not be allowed to sell the club if that happens.

Abramovich has vehemently denied allegations that he has any links to Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Russian state, or that he has done anything to merit being sanctioned.

Egyptian businessman Loutfy Mansour and British businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe were also named as possible bidders by the Guardian.

“The sooner the sale process completes, the sooner everyone has certainty," the chief executive of the Premier League, Richard Masters, said at a football business summit.

“The situation escalated incredibly quickly and it was the right solution because the position was unsustainable.

“The quickest any deal has taken is 10 days. That’s not to say that deal can’t be beaten but it would normally take a number of weeks and it all depends on the complexity of the deal.

"Provided the information is easily accessible, easily understandable and were given all the right answers, it can be done relatively quickly. If the owner is sanctioned by the UK, I don’t think it will work.”

Third-placed Chelsea travel to third-bottom Burnley in the top flight on Saturday.