Eighty-four days later and here we are. It seems an age since Roman Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on March 2 under duress from the Government.
A consortium led by LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly have won the battle to take over at Stamford Bridge in a deal worth £4.25billion.
Sportsmail’s Sami Mokbel looks at what the future holds for Chelsea.
Todd Boehly’s consortium have won the battle for the £4.25bn takeover of Chelsea
WHO ARE CHELSEA’S DECISION MAKERS?
Boehly will be the face of Chelsea’s new era. Much like his predecessor, the American is viewed as a pioneer in sports ownership. In layman’s terms: he isn’t afraid to spend — heavily.
That will be music to Chelsea fans’ ears. They have got used to Abramovich’s go big or go home approach for nearly two decades. Whether Boehly will commit to the same level of spending remains to be seen, but his stewardship at baseball team the LA Dodgers is proof that on the field strengthening will be a continuous priority.
Boehly will spend a large chunk of his summer in London in preparation for his first season at the helm, making himself available for talks with staff, including head coach Thomas Tuchel. It seems likely that he will lean on current chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia in the short term at least.
Indeed, perhaps the most important back-room staff decisions of the post-Abramovich era could be the retention of Buck and Granovskaia.
Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia could still have a part to play in the post Roman Abramovich era and their retentions might be one of US investor Boehly’s biggest decisions
Eyebrows were raised while the pair were allowed to play such a significant role in the sale process, given that they were two of the sanctioned Russian oligarch’s closest aides.
Buck’s position is understood to have been a factor during the sales process. At least one of the rival bidding groups were considering replacing him as chairman. ‘Buck remaining as chairman was certainly a political pawn,’ said a source with close links to a rival bidder.
The expected election of Behdad Eghbali on to the new Chelsea board provides the most intriguing appointment.
Boehly (pictured) will have the position as the front man but Clearlake Capital, co-founded Behdad Eghbali, will own the biggest take in the club at 60 per cent of shares
Despite Boehly’s position as the front man, US financial firm Clearlake Capital, co-founded by Eghbali, will own the biggest stake in the club at 60 per cent of shares and 50 per cent of the voting rights. With that in mind, Iranian-born American Eghbali is sure to play a pivotal role in shaping the new look Chelsea.
Clearlake have no history in sports, so there is no evidence of how Eghbali might approach his stewardship. But you would imagine an investment firm aren’t keen on losing money.
Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, who was the first to throw his hat into the ring for Chelsea, and Boehly’s fellow LA Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter will also have key positions at the club.
Daniel Finkelstein — a Conservative peer and a columnist for The Times — and music broker Barbara Charone will join in non-executive roles.
The club’s new owners have committed £1.75bn worth of investment into the club over the next 10 years. A healthy chunk of that will go towards building on the infrastructural legacy Abramovich has left behind.
But much of it will go towards improving the squad over the long term. Inclusive of player sales, Tuchel will have £200million to strengthen his squad. The vast chunk of that will be spent on new defenders.
Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen leaving on free transfers leaves a gaping hole in the centre of defence. Similarly, the futures of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are unclear, with both believed to be keen on returning to Spain. Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta and Alonso made 181 appearances last season.
Jules Kounde is Thomas Tuchel’s first choice defensive target with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen both leaving at the end of their contracts this summer
They are also interested in Josko Gvardiol (pictured), Pau Torres and Wesley Fofana
Sevilla defender Jules Kounde is Tuchel’s first choice target and there is a growing confidence that a deal for the France international can be done.
Chelsea are also interested in Red Bull Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol, Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Leicester’s Wesley Fofana. But they will need to spend close to £100m to get two centre backs, which would take a big slice out of Boehly’s summer cash.
The scouting and talent identification has been done, all that now needs doing is to execute the deals — Granovskaia and Buck have plenty experience in that.
Longer term, however, expect Chelsea to start adopting a more data-led approach to recruitment — a method that has proved successful at Liverpool.
Thomas Tuchel can finally work on his squad to help build on from a third-placed league finish
The terms of the Government licence under which Chelsea have been operating prevented them from rewarding players with contract extensions.
A priority now will be to agree new deals for academy graduates Reece James and Mason Mount, who have three and two years left on their existing deals respectively and have attracted interest from rival clubs.
The England pair have become integral members of Tuchel’s plans and could command close to £200,000 a week. Sportsmail understands Manchester City have identified James as a long-term successor to Kyle Walker.
Midfielders N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are entering the final year of their contracts and a quick decision will need to be made. Jorginho is a target for Juventus and appears the most likely to leave. Tuchel still sees Kante in his plans so the 31-year-old may enter talks over an extension.
Signing Reece James and Mason Mount to new deals will be high up the priority list
Romelu Lukaku’s first season back at Chelsea was difficult, but there is no rush from the either club or player to explore a parting of ways. There is hope that a full pre-season under Tuchel could bring improvement next season. But if Lukaku does leave, RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku and Benfica’s Darwin Nunez interest Chelsea.
Hakim Ziyech, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Timo Werner could leave this summer. Levi Colwill, Conor Gallagher and Armando Broja will all return after successful loan spells. Tuchel will examine them in pre-season before making a final call on their futures. Crystal Palace are interested in Gallagher and Colwill.
AND A NEW STADIUM?
The club’s complicated stadium situation is at the forefront of Boehly’s thoughts as he collects the keys to Chelsea. Stamford Bridge’s 42,000 capacity limits match-day revenue and extending it is riddled with difficulties.
It is something that Boehly and his aides are said to be acutely aware of. The redevelopment of Dodger Stadium should serve as reassurance to Chelsea fans that solving the stadium conundrum is on the new owners’ list of priorities.
Stamford Bridge, with a capacity of 42,000, will be at the forefront of Boehly’s thoughts
The 42,000 attendance limits match-day revenues and extending it is riddled with issues