If you have spent any time listening to interviews with Todd Boehly in the past year or have read about his work transforming Major League Baseball franchise the Los Angeles Dodgers as a co-owner, you get a sense this is a shrewd and measured operator.
The idea of a “fool-proof”, “perfect”, or even “utopian” solution for Chelsea fans here is probably a foolish line of enquiry. What is more beneficial is looking at the track record of those reportedly interested in buying Chelsea from Roman Abramovich. How are they viewed? What is their experience in owning top sports clubs, if they have any? What is the experience of those who support clubs they own?
What places Boehly above the rest of his fellow US contenders is the assured nods you get from those who know the Dodgers’ success. There are no hoards of opinion pieces begging Chelsea not to sell to him. There are no previous scandals or leaked emails that would pose difficult questions from the get-go.
The two interviews of note that are worth watching from the past nine months are with Yahoo Finance and Sportico, as recently as November. In both, Boehly is in a relaxed environment and asked questions about his decision to get into financing sports teams, given how uncertain it can be.
The Sportico interviewer poses to him why? “Because it’s intellectually stimulating. I think generally, that’s pretty much a rule. Right? There are no guarantees, and it’s also very humbling when you do everything right and you still don’t win.
“There’s a component to it that makes me strive to do better every day. You start, you figure it out, you put the right people in place, you build the right foundation, and you then let it run”.
The American speaks in a pretty similar, measured tone throughout both interviews. He takes his time based on his actions. You do not get the impression his decision to form a consortium to buy Chelsea is made hastily. Within that consortium are Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss and Jonathan Goldstein.
Boehly had tried to buy the Blues from Roman Abramovich as far back as 2019, his track record with the Dodgers’ success combined with his words paint an encouraging picture.
“It all starts from the governance and the culture,” Boehly told Yahoo last year. “Having Earvin Johnson [the former NBA superstar and a co-owner of the Dodgers] as our partner, he just pounded in on us all along [that] we have to win. Right, if you’re in LA, you have to win.
“Being able to have LA as a market. Get the team together, get the energy going. We did a lot of transactions early on. We made the biggest trade ever with the Boston Red Sox. We wanted to feel passionate about winning.
“You always have to keep remembering the fans are the centre. And the second that you kind of veer just goes back to, ‘think about the fans, think about the fans’.”
His consortium is claimed to want to be “pioneers” for fan involvement, gaining the support of two life-long Chelsea fans in Barbara Charone and Daniel Finkelstein, who would both sit on the board.
Something that should appease the Chelsea Supporters Trust, which is proposing a Golden Share for fans to protect the club’s long-term future, among other key points.
Fan involvement in this process is essential. This is a unique opportunity for radical change that cannot be allowed to pass at one of England’s biggest clubs.
Along with that essential component of the process, the footballing side of things could be boosted. Looking at how FSG have cultivated an highly intelligent transfer structure with Jurgen Klopp, Boehly’s ability to delegate and employ the right people in key positions would hopefully start to close a gap.
A new sporting director, a position Chelsea have not replaced since Michael Emenalo departed in 2017, plus improvement in the scouting department, an area that has come under scrutiny in recent years.
Hopefully, the right people could lead to a more consistent approach to player recruitment that can support the head coach’s vision. Whilst also having the gift of Cobham, an elite academy that can provide internal solutions, consistently saving money in the transfer window.
Though in Thomas Tuchel’s own words on Friday, the culture of Chelsea is still to win and compete at the highest level. Something Boehly knows from his time in LA.
“If somebody buys a club for this amount of money, then it’s about challenging on the highest kind of level, then it’s about trophies, then it’s about winning and then it’s about being the best you can.
“I think Chelsea, as a club and a structure and an organisation, has an awful lot to offer, and that’s why the price is like it is.”
Boehly’s openness to interact and explain his ideas is likeable compared to all other potential owners. But he quite clearly values placing the right structure below him, humble enough to take the advice of experts.
Chelsea doesn’t need a mass revolution, just evolution and Boehly can provide that.
*This article was originally published on the 20th of March 2022