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20 Jun, 2022 09:48

Key Abramovich-era ally leaves Chelsea role

American Bruce Buck was a prominent figure during the Russian billionaire’s reign as owner
Key Abramovich-era ally leaves Chelsea role

Chelsea have announced that long-time chairman Bruce Buck is leaving his role, signaling a change in direction under the Premier League giants’ new US leadership. Buck was considered a trusted ally for former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich during the Russian billionaire’s almost two-decade tenure in charge at the Blues.

There had been suggestions that Buck as well as Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia would maintain their positions even after the sanctioned Abramovich was forced into a sale of the club, with new owners Todd Boehly and the Clearlake Capital group potentially seeking continuity with the previous regime.  

But Chelsea announced on Monday that Buck would not be remaining in his role as chairman, although he will move to a position as a “senior adviser.”

“Chelsea Football Club today announced that Bruce Buck, who has served as Chairman since 2003, will be stepping down from his role effective 30 June. He will continue to support the Club as a Senior Advisor,” read a statement.

“During Buck’s chairmanship, Chelsea solidified its position as one of the world’s elite football clubs and a globally recognised brand followed by millions. In that time, the men’s team earned 18 major trophies (more than any other English club) while Chelsea FC Women won 12 major trophies.

“The Club also grew its commercial revenues significantly, established world class training facilities at Cobham, and developed one of the best youth academies in football,” it added, also paying tribute to Buck’s role in helping establish The Chelsea FC Foundation.

Buck said he was “proud” of his time as Chelsea chairman and the success achieved “on the pitch and in the community.”

“Now is the right time to step down and let new ownership build on the strong foundations we have in place,” said Buck.

“The owners have a compelling vision for Chelsea’s future, and I look forward to helping them achieve it in this new role alongside our incredible staff, players, coaches and supporters.”

There are reports that US financier Boehly – also co-owner of baseball team the LA Dodgers – will himself assume Buck’s former position as chairman.

“Bruce has led Chelsea Football Club to the highest levels of international and domestic football, while also developing one of the most active social responsibility projects in sport,” said Boehly in his own message on the 76-year-old’s departure.

Buck helped oversee Abramovich’s acquisition of Chelsea in the summer of 2003 and was installed as chairman soon afterwards.

He and director-turned-transfer guru Granovskaia were seen as a key tandem of Abramovich allies in leading the club, not least as the Russian was forced to manage affairs from afar following his visa issues with the UK government in the wake of the Sergey Skripal spy scandal with Russia in 2018.

Trusted by Abramovich, Buck did find himself the occasional source of fan anger at Stamford Bridge, not least during the European Super League protests of last year.

He nonetheless leaves his position as chairman having been part of the club’s transformation into Premier League and European powerhouses.

After the news that Buck would be leaving his role, attention will turn to what that means for Granovskaia, 47, and the Russian-Canadian’s future at the Blues.

Boehly and his consortium completed their €4.25 billion ($5.2 billion) takeover of Chelsea in May. Abramovich announced he was putting the club up for sale shortly before being sanctioned by the UK government for alleged close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin – something the businessman has long denied.