BY PAUL LAGAN
It’s apparently back to business for Chelsea Football Club as they start their preparations for next season following the UK Government, and Premier League approval of the sale of the club.
The idea that the club has been frozen into a state of impotency while the UK sanctions were imposed was, of course, nonsense.
The actual buying and selling of players was prohibited, as was the commercial arm of the business with the megastore closed and no match day programmes sold to supporters. But, apart from that, work continued in the corridors of SW6 and at the training ground.
People were able to talk – that was not sanctioned – so while deals were unable to be signed, they continued to be negotiated as normal.
The pre-season tour of the US is a case in hand, as will be the swift completion of a couple of deals with players still under contract but want to leave Chelsea.
Those whose contracts expire at the end of June – Toni Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are public knowledge, while Cesar Azplicueta and Marcos Alonso’s moves back to Spain to Barcelona will be the first the new consortium have to deal with but, again, talks are already advanced.
The potential cloud hanging over staff was very much a smokescreen as no one would seriously allow the SW6 outfit to fold. That’s not to say once Todd Boehly and his fellow directors from investment company Clearlake Capital have their feet under the table that they will not make significant changes.
While employment law will prevent wholesale redundancies in the coming months, a review of the business will be undertaken with a new business model imposed on the club’s activities.
The last resort of asking former owner Roman Abramovich for £100million to buy a striker or two will end. But for the club to stand still – hope for a top-four finish in the league – they will need to make significant investment in the senior men’s squad.
For them to become a title-chasing side, they will need to go beyond significant investment.
The new directors need to decide to compete now or hope to develop the squad over a couple of seasons.
The danger of course is that other clubs may overtake them. Newcastle and Tottenham will invest heavily in their squads in the summer.
Spurs, having realised the errors of their ways will give head coach Antonio Conte the funds to get the players he wants – rather than the less expensive version of the player he wanted.
Emma Hayes has won the WSL (Women’s Super League) Manager Of The Season for the third successive year.
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