Russian transfer queen to leave Chelsea – media
The post-Abramovich shake-up at Chelsea is set to continue with reports that highly respected director Marina Granovskaia will leave the club. It was confirmed on Monday that longstanding chairman Bruce Buck would be stepping down from his position at the end of the month.
Granovskaia has been dubbed one of the most powerful women in sport for her role as Chelsea director, serving as former owner Roman Abramovich’s most trusted representative at the London club.
But after the announcement on Monday that Buck would be leaving his post, The Telegraph reports that Granovskaia will definitely follow, potentially before the end of the transfer window on September 1.
Should that be the case, Chelsea’s new US co-owner Todd Boehly will assume responsibilities as the club’s main negotiator in transfer dealings, according to the UK paper.
Boehly is already set to take over as chairman from the outgoing Buck, who will remain as a ‘special adviser’, signaling the hands-on intent that Boehly has as the face of the consortium which bought the club in a £4.25 billion ($5.2 billion) deal in May.
Russian-Canadian Granovskaia has been a mainstay of the Chelsea hierarchy since formally joining the club’s board in 2013, having already served as a representative for Abramovich in London. She previously worked for the Russian billionaire at Sibneft and Millhouse Capital.
Granovskaia, 47, has earned a reputation as among football’s shrewdest negotiators in transfer and sponsorship business, and last year won the prestigious ‘Best Club Director’ in European football accolade at the Golden Boy awards organized by Italian newspaper Tuttosport.
A graduate of Moscow State University, Granovskaia has rarely given interviews throughout her time at Chelsea but has been described as an “uncompromising but cultured” operator by those who have experience of working with her.
Should Granovskaia’s exit be confirmed, it would be part of sweeping changes at Stamford Bridge which mark a departure from the much more hands-off approach from Abramovich, who seemed content to allow Granovskaia and Buck to carry out the day-to-day running of the club.
Even from afar, Abramovich continued to invest large sums in transfers, including a record outlay for striker Romelu Lukaku last summer. After an unsuccessful season, the Belgian now seems set for a swift return to Inter Milan, initially on loan, with Boehly said to be personally involved in the discussions.
The new Blues owner has also granted manager Thomas Tuchel more clout in terms of transfers and contracts, according to The Telegraph.
Meanwhile, the future of Chelsea goalkeeping legend Petr Cech in his role as the club’s technical and performance adviser is said to be uncertain.
Former Blues boss Abramovich saw his nearly 20-year spell as owner come to an end when he announced he was selling the club in early March, shortly before being hit with sanctions by the UK government over his alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Under Abramovich’s reign, Chelsea emerged as domestic and European powerhouses, winning five Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns, among numerous other titles.
A co-owner of US baseball team the LA Dodgers, Boehly has vowed to build on that “remarkable history of success” at the Blues. Hinting at his new plans, the US financier said at a conference in Berlin last week that Chelsea and other Premier League clubs could wield even more financial firepower.
“They don’t realize how big their opportunity is,” the 48-year-old was quoted as saying. “Let’s get a hold of our destiny and think about how to optimize this.”
With a considerable boardroom shake-up underway, Chelsea fans will hope that “optimization” yields the same steady stream of success on the pitch which defined the Roman Abramovich years.