Boehly needs perspective he won’t be afforded from Chelsea fans spoiled by Abramovich

Will Ford
Boehly Abramovich Chelsea

Todd Boehly seems like a decent guy and a good owner, but Roman Abramovich conversed with Chelsea fans in one language and they aren’t ready to go bilingual.


After Roman Abramovich moved to dismiss reports he would renege on his promise and ask for his loan to be repaid, Todd Boehly and his consortium are edging ever closer to becoming the new owners of Chelsea Football Club. Boehly and his cronies have beaten off competition from Sir Martin Broughton and Steve Pagliuca, who are still said to be watching with interest in case the bid breaks down, as well as Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who put in a late £4bn bid.

The Raine Group, the bank overseeing Chelsea’s sale, have selected Boehly’s consortium as their preferred bidder, with the Premier League owners’ test the next hurdle, before government approval is required. Assuming no hiccoughs, Boehly will be the new Chelsea owner by the end of May, when the government licence ends.

Boehly and his consortium have talked a good game: investment in the squad; plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge; pushing to be “pioneers” of fan involvement in the club. But they will not be starting their ownership of Chelsea from a position of strength.

Despite the corroborated findings of corruption that led Abramovich to earn his billions, allegations of train robberies, missing persons, and the all-round unease that shrouds him, the man that’s indirectly funding a war on Ukraine is still a God-like figure to Chelsea fans. It seems the majority, led by a very vocal minority, don’t care how he handed unparalleled success to Chelsea through his billions, they just love that he did.

The fans that chanted his name through the proposed minute’s silence for Ukraine were deplored by any right-minded Chelsea supporter, but many of those abhorring that incredible lack of grace by a few idiots would in the same breath insist “he did love the club, though”, or some other groundless assertion that bears no weight against claims that it may very well have been simple, clearly very effective, sportswashing.

Boehly (should he be successful), and every subsequent Chelsea owner, will be compared to Abramovich. It’s as though Chelsea have been dating an olive-skinned, abs-laden philanthropist taken from them at the peak of their love to fight famine in Africa. Anyone else, no matter whether they are in fact better for them or not, can compare. Only a six-pack? Pfft, let’s look at your bank balance.

And that is all they will be interested in. Not all Chelsea fans, but again, the vocal minority. These people don’t care about the stadium, the youth system, or whether the club is fan-led, they want big money to be shelled out on big signings and anything less will not be good enough.

Drogba Abramovich Chelsea

We in the media don’t help to propagate reason. Despite Chelsea literally having no money to spend and no way of spending it, transfer rumours haven’t slowed, with the club linked with £80m defenders and ‘frustrated’ that these darn sanctions meant they couldn’t hand Erling Haaland £500,000 per week.

Chelsea fans expect to continue to compete at the highest level, which is fine, but they have no right to an owner who’s going to splash cash to solve every problem. Boehly will want to do things differently, but people, especially spoilt people, don’t like change.

In other instances Boehly could have been seen as the Chelsea hero, saving a club on the brink of ruin, but such acclaim – if he receives any at all – will last as long as it takes for the first speculative ‘Boehly’s overhaul’ article to be published. The new owner will undoubtedly make grand claims of continued Chelsea success, because if he asks for what he truly wants – some perspective after an era of wanton spending – he will be met with inane cries of ‘Roman Abramovich, Roman Abramovich’.