Tie down Tuchel and change transfer policy: Five tasks for Chelsea's new owners

Todd Boehly-led consortium finally set to complete £4.25 billon takeover of Premier League club

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After a lengthy and complicated process, Chelsea will finally have new owners in place, ending months of uncertainty and instability amid government-imposed sanctions on the club related to Roman Abramovich.

The consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly is set to complete a £4.25 billon takeover of the Premier League club after the UK government authorised the sale on Wednesday, ushering in a new era at Stamford Bridge.

Now in charge of one of Europe's biggest clubs, there is little time for Boehly and his fellow shareholders to celebrate, with a list of pressing tasks that need to be addressed to lay the foundations for Chelsea's future.

Here are five of the most important issues that the new owners must tackle.

Tie down Tuchel

One of the key features of the Abramovich era was the high turnover of managers. In the Russian's 19 years in charge, Chelsea had 15 head coaches, permanent and interim, including Jose Mourinho twice. None lasted more than two full seasons.

While a trigger-happy approach defied the sensible logic that stability breeds success - Chelsea won 19 major trophies under Abramovich - the club currently has in the dugout a genuine elite manager who, if given the right support, can return the Blues to Premier League title contention.

Thomas Tuchel has worked wonders since arriving at Stamford Bridge in January 2021, guiding Chelsea from ninth to fourth in the league and to the Champions League title in his first half-season, before finishing third this past campaign and to successive League Cup and FA Cup finals.

Beyond his obvious tactical acumen and man-management skills, Tuchel deserves huge credit for his leadership during a period of immense instability, and the German is adored by the Stamford Bridge faithful, who unfurled a giant tifo of their manager before the penultimate game of the season.

With two years remaining on his contract, one of the first tasks for the new owners is to tie Tuchel down to a long-term deal while affording him the necessary power to lead the team without influence or interference, the way Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are allowed to operate at Manchester City and Liverpool respectively. That will be a major statement from the owners to signify their intentions to make Chelsea a more stable and forward-focused club.

Thomas Tuchel has been a revelation since being appointed Chelsea manager in January 2021. Getty

Sort out key players' futures

Chelsea have massively dropped the ball by allowing Antonio Rudiger, the club's best defender, to leave on a free transfer after failing to agree new terms. Fellow centre-back Andreas Christensen will also depart when his contract expires next month, while key midfielders N'Golo Kante and Jorginho have entered the final year of their deals.

Elsewhere, Academy graduates Mason Mount and Reece James - two of Chelsea's most important players - are among the lowest paid in the senior squad and are drawing inevitable interest from Europe's biggest clubs.

There is set to be enough upheaval of the squad this summer, so it's vital that the new owners sort out the futures of key players. That starts by offering Mount and James improved contracts more reflective of their importance to the team, and deciding whether to offer Kante and Jorginho extensions.

Mateo Kovacic, Chelsea's best central midfielder, has two years left on his deal, so a new contract should be forthcoming to avoid the Croatian leaving for a cut-price fee next summer. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Christian Pulisic also have two years remaining, so it's decision time over whether to extend their stays at Stamford Bridge or attempt to receive a premium from interested clubs.

Chelsea can no longer rely on the near-limitless generosity of a single billionaire owner and must start making smarter decisions relating to the future of the club's best players.

Mason Mount and Reece James, two Academy graduates, are now among Chelsea's most important players. Getty

Shift in transfer policy

Of Chelsea's 30 most expensive signings - all from the Abramovich era - at least half can be deemed as failures, from both a football and business perspective.

The likes of Danny Drinkwater, Michy Batshuayi, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, and more recently Kepa Arrizabalaga and Romelu Lukaku, have arrived at Stamford Bridge for massive fees and failed to justify the outlay. Indeed, the 31st most expensive was full-back Baba Abdul-Rahman, who was signed for €26 million and has spent most of his time out on loan.

At least with Juan Cuadrado and Alvaro Morata - signed for a combined €97m - Chelsea recouped most of the money, while Oscar was a rare exception of a player who was sold for a large profit. But the point remains that Chelsea have squandered too much cash on too many players who were either never good enough or did not represent value for money.

With the club now majority-owned by private equity firm Clearlake Capital, the same scatter-gun approach is highly unlikely, and a shift towards a more focused and thought-out transfer policy will be a priority.

If reports are to be believed, Tuchel will have access to as much as £200m to spend on new players this summer, and expect an approach that centres on young, talented players who will either serve Chelsea long term or can be potentially sold for profit in the future.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was signed for a world record £72m but is Chelsea's second-choice goalkeeper. Reuters

Expand stadium or build a new one

Chelsea had previously hoped to expand Stamford Bridge from its 42,000-seat capacity to 60,000 but those plans were shelved in 2018 around the time Abramovich withdrew his application for a new UK visa.

It remains a pressing issue as Chelsea currently have only the ninth largest stadium in the Premier League, and if the new owners are serious about their ambitions to elevate the club's status to match the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, then expanding Stamford Bridge or building a new stadium should be high up the list of priorities.

Increasing stadium capacity is also vital to boost the club's long-term revenue. Stamford Bridge generated £67m in matchday income from the 2018/19 season, compared to more than £100m by Arsenal and Tottenham from their 60,000-plus capacity stadiums.

The new owners have already committed to investing £1.75bn into the club, with a portion of that earmarked for the stadium.

Stamford Bridge is only the ninth-largest stadium in the Premier League. PA

Make Chelsea self-sufficient

Expanding the stadium to boost matchday revenue and smarter transfer policy will go some way to improving Chelsea's bottom line, but a wider income-generating strategy needs to be implemented to make the club consistently profitable and self-sufficient.

Under Abramovich, Chelsea experienced some years of profit and others of loss - like many major clubs - but that would ignore the £1.5bn the Russian loaned the club, which is set to be written off as part of the sale.

While the new owners have pledged to invest £1.75bn "in Stamford Bridge, the academy, the women's team and Kingsmeadow and continued funding for the Chelsea Foundation", they have also given assurances that they will not pay themselves dividends or management fees for the next 10 years. Eventually, though, they will want to see a return on their investment.

An immediate cash injection combined with the aim of achieving long-term profit should mean the new owners will have plans to increase Chelsea's revenue streams. New sponsorship deals - including stadium naming rights - can provide a short-term boost while longer term, Boehly has expressed his ambition for transforming Chelsea into a worldwide brand, similar to Manchester United.

How that works in reality will be interesting to see, particularly given the competition, but as Chelsea embark on a new era in their storied history, a period of greater stability should lie ahead.

Updated: May 25, 2022, 9:07 AM
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