Explained: Chelsea’s restructure and the roles of Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart

Although Chelsea have brought in 12 first-team signings over the first two transfer windows under Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital’s ownership for an initial commitment in transfer fees in excess of 500 million pounds ($615 million), the division of responsibility lies within their extremely active recruitment. the operation has been difficult to decipher for the rest of the football world.

No longer. At the end of a January window in which seven new players joined Cobham and Lyon right-back Malo Gusto was bought before the summer, Chelsea have moved to restructure their senior management team in football as two of their much-reported recruitment hires, Laurence Stewart from AS Monaco and Joe Shields from Southampton officially starts work.

Also Read :  Man City have the most expensive average starting XI in Europe at £560m, while Man Utd are third

Stewart and Paul Winstanley, who were originally recruited from Brighton & Hove Albion in November to act as director of global talent and transfers, will be appointed as co-sporting directors. The pair will take overall responsibility for running Chelsea’s football operations, including transfers, talent identification and recruitment strategy.

Also Read :  Explained: Premier League yellow card suspension rules and the players at risk

Reporting to Stewart and Winstanley will be technical director Christopher Vivell, who will take a more global focus as Chelsea look to build out a multi-club model in the coming years. The rest of the senior team under the co-sporting directors includes Shields, head coach Graham Potter’s trusted recruitment analyst Kyle Macaulay and long-time data manager Matt Hallam. Head of Youth Development Jim Fraser will also be fully integrated as the club look to focus the bulk of their recruitment on elite younger talent.

Also Read :  World Cup 2022: Live stream, how to watch in 4K, schedule, start times, TV channel for Germany, Spain, Belgium

Further hires are expected to be made in Chelsea’s IT and scouting operations in the coming months, but Boehly and Clearlake founder Behdad Eghbali now believe they have their core team in place. Both men have been heavily involved in Chelsea’s first two transfer windows since the change of ownership, with Eghbali leading the club’s successful effort alongside Winstanley to sign Mykhailo Mudryk from rivals Arsenal and Enzo Fernandez on deadline day.

Fernandez completed his move to Chelsea on deadline day (Photo: CARLOS COSTA/AFP via Getty Images)

Boehly and Eghbali each have a large portfolio of business interests outside Chelsea, and while they are expected to remain actively involved owners on the sporting side, it is Winstanley and Stewart who will be empowered to shape the club’s approach to recruitment, from data analysis and scouting to the mechanics of transfer and contract negotiations.

Of course, that will not necessarily prevent agents and managers at other clubs from making transfer proposals directly to Eghbali and Boehly, who last year took over the title of interim sporting director following the departure of Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech. But it is hoped that by clarifying their structure in this way, Chelsea will establish Winstanley and Stewart as the primary points of contact for anyone interested in making deals with the club.

The two men are seen internally as having different but complementary strengths: Stewart, whose previous role at Monaco was technical director, is more focused on scouting and player performance, while Winstanley has more experience in transfer negotiations and talent management – a track record he improved with a leading role in Chelsea’s recruitment in a very busy January window.


Stewart joins after a spell with Monaco (Photo: AS Monaco FC)

Chelsea’s senior reshuffle is also meant to signal a significant shift in strategy. After breaking a number of records for spending on transfer fees in the summer of 2022 and January 2023, Boehly and Clearlake want to invest more modestly in recruitment in the coming windows. That claim is likely to be met with considerable skepticism outside Stamford Bridge, given the extent of their moves in the market to date, and actions carry more credence than words.

But the idea – voiced publicly and privately by many in the football world in recent weeks – that Chelsea have set out to disrupt and distort the transfer market is not supported by the club. The large transfer fees agreed for players such as Fernandez and Mudryk who have understandably dominated the headlines are just one aspect of the investment; all January signings are considered to be on sensible, incentivized wages designed over time to help Boehly and Clearlake bring the club’s overall wage bill down to a more sustainable level compared to the Roman Abramovich era.

Chelsea are also likely to continue with longer-than-average contracts where appropriate, despite UEFA’s move to limit the duration over which transfer fees can be amortized for financial fair play (FFP) to five years from next summer. The rationale is that these extended obligations benefit the club by protecting the resale value of young and (hopefully) improved assets while also benefiting the players, who gain greater income security in the event of injury.

Stewart and Winstanley are now in a position to lead the conversations underpinning these strategic decisions, although Boehly and Eghbali are keen to maintain the more collaborative culture they sought to establish at Cobham following the departures of Granovskaia and Cech last year, and ensure that everyone involved in the process has input.

Chelsea’s ownership group have been insistent since they took control of the club last summer that they wanted to build a world-class sporting organization as well as a winning team. With these structural changes, they believe they have taken a big step towards achieving that goal.

(Top photo: Denis Lovrovic/AFP via Getty Images)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button