Ranking Todd Boehly mistakes at Chelsea: ‘The FFP mess’ storms into top spot

Will Ford
Todd Boehly Chelsea
Todd Boehly has been a disaster for Chelsea.

Todd Boehly may well be regretting his purchase of Chelsea Football Club. The poor billionaire’s had a rough time of it since riding in as the white knight of Stamford Bridge.

He’s got himself to blame for most of the nonsense though and we’ve ranked the mistakes he’s made since taking over the club in May 2022. 


16) Premier League All-Stars
Starting a pitch by claiming the Premier League could “learn a lesson from American sports” was never going to go down well, and Boehly’s suggestion of a North versus South All-Star game was predictably met with xenophobically tinged responses from people who Know English Football.

It appeared to be an offhand comment made with the best intentions of giving back to the football pyramid, but the one extra game in the calendar that, let’s face it, loads of people would watch and would provide millions of pounds for smaller clubs was a terrible idea as everyone would definitely get injured during that one specific, half-arsed game.


15) The Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne academy
At that same New York conference in September Boehly claimed Chelsea have “one of the best academies in the world”, which is arguable, but using Salah and De Bruyne to evidence the worth of that academy rather sullies the argument, and by association any other point about Chelsea or football in general.

Salah broke through at Egyptian side Al Mokawloon before moving to Basel, while De Bruyne made the first team at Genk before a transfer to Chelsea. And namedropping either of those two players to attest to Chelsea’s excellence in developing players is unwise.

Using Boehly’s earlier All-Star comments against him, Thierry Henry advised the American owner to “learn your own lessons and then come back and teach us something” in reference to his lack of knowledge on the history of his own football club.


14) ‘Disrespecting’ Benfica over Enzo Fernandez
All’s well that ends well, right? Well, Chelsea did get Enzo Fernandez but aren’t now on the best of terms with Benfica, who will no doubt have a player or two they’ll want in the future.

Benfica boss Roger Schmidt wasn’t at all happy with Chelsea’s approach for Fernandez. Referred to as “the club who wants Enzo”, like they’re a footballing Lord Voldermort, Chelsea were accused of making the midfielder “crazy” through suggesting they would meet his £106m release clause, then not doing so, before meeting the Portuguese club’s demands in the end.


13) Not pushing harder for Anthony Gordon
Full disclosure, when we last did this ranking back in May this was still titled ‘Pushing for Anthony Gordon’, but he’s made us all look a bit daft, grabbing eight goals and six assists in the Premier League for Newcastle this season, four more goal contributions than he managed in 65 appearances for Everton.


12) Dressing room faux pas
Football is arguably too precious about dressing rooms. While American sports allow journalists and fans into their ‘inner sanctums’, footballers and managers appear to want some sort of DBS check for anyone thinking of setting foot in the holiest of all places.

The Chelsea players were ‘taken aback’ when Mykhaylo Mudryk and his entourage were granted entry with Booehly ahead of the Crystal Palace game back in January, but actually it sounds entirely reasonable to introduce a new signing to the players before a game.

However, attempting to bring a group of guests and their children, with no particular affiliation to Chelsea, into the dressing room at half-time in a Premier League game, is a bold move, not least because bringing children into a dressing room with adult men, who could be changing, could be swearing, could be doing anything, feels all wrong.

Thomas Tuchel told Boehly to do one, and was sacked four days later.


11) ‘Embarrassing’ rant
We don’t know everything about what happened, but what we do know is he called the players “embarrassing”, singled a senior player out for criticism leaving them ‘disillusioned’, and at least one onlooker thought it was “weird”. It doesn’t sound great.

Arsene Wenger reckons the new manager should have an anti-Boehly clause inserted in their contract. It appears that clause is already in place for the sport of football as a whole.


10) Outsourcing medical work
To be fair, dismissed pair Paco Biosca and Thierry Laurent weren’t doing a great job as medical chief and head physio – Chelsea topped the injury count in the Premier League in 2021/22 with 97 according to Howden’s European Football Injury Index. But the injury problems have ramped up significantly since Boehly decided to outsource some of the medical work to a private physiotherapy company.

Denis Zakaria, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, N’Golo Kante, Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell, Armando Broja, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Christian Pulisic, Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva all spent significant time on the sidelines last season, and we’ve barely seen James, Romeo Lavia or Christopher Nkunku this term, with Marc Cucurella, Ben Chilwell, Carney Chukwuemeka and Benoit Badiashile also out for a big chunk of the campaign.

In a leaked private message in which he explained why his client and his teammates were struggling due to a ‘lack of pilates and terrain work’, Trevoh Chalobah’s personal trainer said it best: ‘It’s an absolute mess at the moment, bro.’


9) Signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Given we were told by Boehly that the club’s decision to sack Tuchel was made over a stretch of time and not as a result of the defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, how the hell can he explain the signing of Aubameyang? He was a 33-year-old striker, who was infamously kicked out of Arsenal for being a bad influence in the dressing room, signed purely because he scored a load of goals under Tuchel eight years ago.

With his transfer fee and annual salary taken into account, Aubameyang cost Chelsea roughly £20k per minute played.


8) Failed hijacks
When this list was first published in January 2023 this section was also titled ‘failed hijacks’ as we questioned why the result of cherry-picking people that we assumed were among the best in the business from Brighton, RB Leipzig and elsewhere to oversee all things transfers, those individuals appeared to be engaging with the market in the same way anyone with an interest in football with access to the interweb might – gossip columns.

And although we very quickly had egg thrown in our face as Mykhaylo Mudryk did in fact end up hog-tied and brought to Chelsea over Arsenal, it remains a ‘failed hijack’ by virtue of the impact of said individual. Arsenal got Leandro Trossard, who’s been brilliant, while Mudryk has resembled a lost puppy and shoots as though his right foot is made of sweaty salami.

Good thing Boehly’s tied him down for eight years.


7) Paying £62m for Marc Cucurella
He’s been signficiantly better this season than he was last, but he set a very low bar.

But this isn’t really about Cucurella, it’s about Chelsea consistently paying over the odds for their players. They ended up doubling their initial offer for Wesley Fofana, eventually landing him for £75m, shelled out £9m for six months of Joao Felix, plus his hefty weekly wages, £88m on Mudryk, £106m on Fernandez, £115m on Caicedo and over £1bn in total on players, very few of whom have so far proved to be worth anywhere near their various, generally exorbitant, transfer fees.


6) Performance-related contracts
It’s one of those things that sounds far better than it actually is. It seems reasonable to pay players in a team according to how well that team has done. A big problem is that some players are negatively affected by the team’s poor performance and others – those with their wages assured – are not. It caused significant issues in the dressing room last season and how is Cole Palmer going to feel when he finishes this season with 20 goals but doesn’t receive a bonus because his teammates haven’t stepped up to the mark?

And although this new system hasn’t seemingly been an issue so far in the transfer market, given Chelsea won’t be in the Champions League next season, a similarly big club with a secured pay packet will surely hold the advantage this summer and for as many transfer windows as it takes for the ‘project’ to be realised.


5) Re-apppointing Frank Lampard
It didn’t really matter, but let’s be clear, re-hiring Lampard was completely f***ing mental. To think all that group of players needed was a pep-talk from a club legend perfectly illustrates how deluded Boehly is. 11 games, one win, eight defeats.


4) Not buying a proven striker
We like Nicolas Jackson, and at £32m he looks like a half-decent signing, but to spend just six per cent of £1bn on strikers makes no sense at a club that’s been in dire need of a goalscorer since Diego Costa left six years ago.


3) Hiring Graham Potter
Let’s not claim now that is wasn’t an exciting appointment. Potter could have been the man to usher in a new dawn at Chelsea. And yet, in his bid to be nothing like Roman Abramovich, Todd Boehly has been very like Roman Abramovich, having sacked two managers in his first season at the club.

Boehly was said to be surprised by the strength of the fans’ anger at Chelsea’s performances under Potter, and realised that he had no choice but to show him the door with his own relationship with the fanbase at risk.

Hired after pre-season, Potter was handed a poorly balanced and bulging squad featuring a combination of very young players and those that were entirely disillusioned with the club. It was never going to work.

Ex-Chelsea head coach Graham Potter looks dejected during a match.
Things didn’t go according to plan for Graham Potter at Chelsea.


2) Sacking Thomas Tuchel
“It wasn’t a decision that was made about a single win or loss, it was made about what we thought was the right vision for the club.” It’s a shame Boehly’s vision couldn’t include the manager who had won the Champions League a year previously and had taken Chelsea to six finals. It’s also a shame Boehly’s vision wasn’t apparent before he spent £270m on players for the manager he would then sack five days after the summer transfer window closed.

Simon Jordan reckons the secret reasons behind Tuchel’s Chelsea sacking would “make people’s eyes water” but on the face of it – even given his struggles at Bayern and imminent parting of ways – the decision looked incredibly rash, and the timing downright ridiculous.


1) The FFP mess
Nothing sums up Todd Boehly’s time at Chelsea quite like them not being able to afford to play in the Europa Conference League.

Firstly, the Europa Conference League? Jesus. When he took over they were the reigning Champions League winners. Now their best hope of playing in Europe comes courtesy of a Carabao Cup final. Would they even want to play in the Europa Conference League? Well no, probably not, but not because they think they’re above it, but because they have spent so much money that they couldn’t afford the financial hit of playing under UEFA’s stricter financial rules.

It’s all explained here: Why Chelsea may have to turn down European football if they beat Liverpool in Carabao Cup final

The one way in which they may manage to stay within the European rules would be through selling all those delicious ‘pure profit’ players, otherwise known as the academy graduates, who grew up in and love the football club, but have big fat Euro symbols floating over their heads.

Boehly’s already got rid of Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ethan Ampadu, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Lewis Hall and Billy Gilmour, and is seemingly doing everything possible to find buyers for Conor Gallagher, Ian Maatsen and Trevoh Chlobah.

So much for soul and identity.