Chelsea changes include Boehly as interim sporting director

Todd Boehly, the American businessman who fronted the recent world-record purchase of Chelsea, will assume the role of club chairman and also take charge of its offseason transfer dealings in an interim role as sporting director.

The boardroom changes announced Wednesday included the imminent departure of Marina Granovskaia, who rose to prominence in recent years as a tough negotiator and conductor of Chelsea’s business in the transfer market.

Granovskaia is being retained until the end of the current transfer window, however, to support the transition of power from Roman Abramovich.

The west London club was sold last month for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) — the highest price paid for a sports team — to a consortium fronted by Boehly, part-owner of Los Angeles Dodgers. That price tag is expected to be eclipsed by the impending sale of the NFL’s Denver Broncos.

The Chelsea sale marked the end of the trophy-filled, 19-year tenure of Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who was forced to put the club on the market in March after being sanctioned by the British government for what it called his enabling of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal and barbaric invasion” of Ukraine.

Bruce Buck, who served as chairman under Abramovich, is stepping down at the end of June. Granovskaia was another trusted and increasingly key member of the board under Abramovich, and will help Boehly reshape the team over the next couple of months.

It looks like being a busy summer for Chelsea, which appears set to let Romelu Lukaku return to Inter Milan on a one-year loan. The Belgium striker will go down as one of the biggest flops in Premier League history, having joined Chelsea for a second spell for a reported fee of $135 million and as the seventh most expensive player of all time.

Lukaku was dropped at the start of the year after giving an interview in which he said he was “not happy with the situation” at Chelsea and indicated he didn’t like Tuchel’s style of play. He later apologized.

Chelsea has also been linked with two forwards: Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele.

Even if it is only for a brief period, Boehly is taking on a big role by becoming sporting director, given his inexperience in soccer and its transfer market. Retaining Granovskaia this summer is important in that respect, though it was inevitable she had to leave given her links to the former regime at Chelsea.

Other names on the new Chelsea board included Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter, Swiss magnate Hansjorg Wyss and British tycoon Jonathan Goldstein. Barbara Charone, who works in the music industry in public relations, is on there, too.

In announcing the make-up of the board, Boehly said it marks the start of “executing our long-term vision and plan for the club, creating an outstanding experience for its passionate, loyal fans, and continuing to challenge for top honors in line with Chelsea’s decorated history.”

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