Wednesday, June 29, 2022

How Bruce Buck’s departure will shape Chelsea’s transfer plans, with Todd Boehly taking over

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Buck is stepping down on June 30 after 19 years at Stamford Bridge with the face of takeover Todd Boehly set to replace him and lead the club away from the high spending of the Roman Abramovich era

Buck will retire at the end of the month but will remain with the club in an advisory capacity. Director Marina Granovskaia, who has held much of transfer responsibilities, will also reportedly leave west London to overtake key Roman Abramovich figures.

Todd Boehly will become Chelsea chairman when Bruce Buck steps down after 19 years in the role. I understands.

Amid government sanctions against the Blues’ former owner, whose assets were frozen in March, senior officials have advised the Chelsea takeover is an opportunity to sever all ties with what the Foreign Office has described as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch”. .

Both Buck and Granovskaia have been appointed by the Russian-born billionaire, although it is believed there was no pressure to have their sacked and the decision was made within the club.

In fact, at the time the acquisition closed on May 30, there was no expectation that Buck would be leaving. That comes after separate talks with Boehly and Clearlake Capital – the other leaders of the consortium that bought the club for £4.25bn.

Boehly said Buck, 76, “has taken Chelsea to the highest levels of international and domestic football while developing one of sport’s most active social responsibility projects”.

Under his tenure, Chelsea won more trophies than any other club in English football in almost two decades. The men’s team won 18 major honours, including five Premier League titles and two Champions League titles, while the women’s team won 12 trophies, including six women’s Super League titles and reaching the Champions League final in 2021 .

However, Boehly has warned that the spending that defined the Abramovich era cannot be sustained. At a conference in Berlin last Wednesday, he said financial fair play is “starting to take teeth and that will limit the ability to win players at any cost”.

“Uefa takes it seriously and will continue to take it seriously,” he added, alluding to “fines and exclusion from competitions.”

Player recruitment aside – the current Chelsea squad is worth an estimated £700m-800m in market – many of the foundations for future success have already been laid. Buck was instrumental in the development of Cobham Training Ground, which opened in 2007.

Chelsea’s summer business is already underway. A centre-back is prioritized as Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen move to La Liga. Sevilla’s Jules Kounde has been identified as the first choice to replace her, but the deal has been complicated by the defender requiring surgery for an injury that flared up on international duty with France.

Romelu Lukaku’s forthcoming loan back to Inter Milan is offset by the addition of another striker who isn’t necessarily in the same form as the Belgium striker. Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has been approached.

This will be the first real restructuring of the squad since Thomas Tuchel took charge in January 2021 – and although a number of targets were handpicked before the end of last season, it was unknown how long the sanctions would remain in place during the takeover talks on whether Abramovich would demand repayment of a £1.6billion loan to the club have faltered.

Eager to make spending prudent, Boehly is putting a new emphasis on data models, which have contributed to surprise wins at Leicester and Brentford. Both clubs have exemplified a strategy of using analytics to identify players early and gain an advantage over clubs that have historically been able to spend more freely. Data has also been central to the progress of the LA Dodgers, the baseball team that Boehly co-owns.

In his farewell statement, Buck said the new owners had a “compelling vision for Chelsea’s future and I look forward to helping them realize it in this new role alongside our incredible staff, players, coaches and supporters “.

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