With Chelsea needing just 6 points from their remaining 5 games, the Premier League trophy could soon be polished and decorated with blue and white ribbons, ready for the Crystal Palace game on Saturday.
The club is set to be the first Premier League team in a decade to be crowned Champions, while also recording a profit in the transfer window. Some talk in the papers has focused on Jose Mourinho’s transfer approach being the main reason for this impressive feat, which got me thinking.
Who’s the real brains behind the deals and what’s changed at Chelsea?
I must admit, my understanding of Chelsea’s finances in the past have been limited to say the least. I’d always chosen to pay attention to what’s happening on the pitch than caring about transfer fees, annual balance sheets and dare I utter the three letters “FFP”. Man perfects the explanation of the offside rule with salt and pepper shakers, and now we hope each day no one asks us about financial fair play regulations.
My interest started to gain momentum last November when Chelsea FC plc announced a profit of £18.4 million and a record turnover of £319.8 million. It was clear there was a change in Chelsea’s transfer strategy, and someone was clearly spearheading this positive approach.
Meet Marina Granovskaia. She helped negotiate the signings of Juan Cuadrado, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa whilst being the central figure in Jose’s return from Real Madrid.
Marina Granovskaia joined the board of Chelsea FC plc and the club board in June 2013, after moving to London from Moscow in 2003, acting representative of Roman Abramovich since 2010. She’s worked closely with Roman as a senior advisor for more than 17 years (and started her career at Sibneft, a former oil company owned by Roman), looking after his vast portfolio of interests and assets, with a continual focus on Chelsea since his acquisition of the club in 2003. Along with Southampton’s Katharina Liebherr and Hammers Vice Chairman Karren Brady, 39 year old Marina is one of the most powerful women in football.
When it comes to players coming and going at Chelsea, selling Juan Mata is something I still struggle to come to terms with. In a Chelsea shirt, not many come close to the technical ability he possesses and with 33 goals and 58 assists from 135 appearances his stats while at Chelsea speak for themselves (his blog is worth a read to boot).
The flipside of this includes some of the other players who left the club in the past 12 months. Selling an unpredictable, fourth choice defender for £49.5 million and gaining £6 million profit for Andre Schurrle who’d only actually started 20 games, is great business. While Andre is a player I admire, becoming out of favour with Jose is usually a one way path to the door.
With Marina pulling the strings on the finances of our club, well, long may her tenure continue. Our mature transfer deals, player loans and club sponsorships are being admired by Chelsea fans, and are keeping us well away from any lengthy transfer embargo situations – see Barcelona.