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Chelsea announce ‘strategic growth plan’ for women’s team

Written by on May 30, 2024

Chelsea have announced a new “strategic growth plan” which will see the women’s side sit alongside the men’s team in the club’s sporting structure.

The women’s side had previously sat beneath the men’s, and the new structure, the club say, will see dedicated resources, management and commercial leadership to focus solely on Sonia Bompastor’s team.

Chelsea state this will enable the club to “harness the full potential of the opportunity for women’s football” and “help attract new investment into Chelsea Women”.

The Athletic reported earlier this month Chelsea have received interest from investors seeking to acquire a minority stake in the women’s side, with the club’s owners prepared to consider proposals. U.S.-based merchant bank BDT & MSD Partners has been engaged with as a financial advisor over any potential minority investment.

“Having analysed the market and discussed with investors, there is a strong desire for an opportunity to invest solely into the women’s game to specifically support women’s football and benefit from the growth in the women’s game,” Chelsea’s statement on Wednesday said.

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Under the new structure, Clearlake Capital, Chelsea’s co-owners, will continue to be the controlling shareholder in Chelsea Women and will continue to invest in the squad.

The new structure will come into force ahead of the 2024-25 season, as Chelsea undergo a period of change within the women’s set-up. Manager Emma Hayes has departed after 12 years to take the USWNT job, with former Lyon coach Bompastor appointed as her replacement.

Chelsea secured a record-extending fifth successive Women’s Super League title during the 2023-24 campaign, finishing top of the table with victory over Manchester United in Hayes’ final game in charge.

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So, what exactly have Chelsea changed?

Analysis by women’s football correspondent Charlotte Harpur

The club have announced the women’s team will sit “alongside, rather than beneath” the men’s team. That means the women’s side will have dedicated resources, management and commercial leadership which will focus solely on them.

The club’s ownership group will continue to be the controlling shareholder of Chelsea Women while co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Lawrence Stewart will continue to lead football operations alongside women’s general manager Paul Green.

Why have they done this?

Analysis by women’s football correspondent Charlotte Harpur

The club recognise the need to capitalise on the growth they have achieved this year but, in order to fulfil their potential, they need further resources. Last season, they held nine games at Stamford Bridge, none of which ran at a loss, quadrupled their women’s-only sponsorship deals and doubled their ticket sales.

Only five per cent of Chelsea’s men’s club members and six per cent of men’s season ticket holders came to the women’s games held at Stamford Bridge so sharing resources in a business which does not reflect their audience no longer makes sense.

What will the financial impact be?

Analysis by women’s football correspondent Charlotte Harpur

Chelsea see this new structure as appealing to future investors as it attempts to grow the overall investment value of the women’s team. They have received interest from investors seeking to acquire a minority stake in the women’s side, with the club’s owners prepared to consider proposals.

Through their own research, the club feel there is demand to invest solely into the women’s game. They have worked with financial advisors and global merchant bank BDT & MSD Partners to evaluate interest. They will also continue to invest in the infrastructure, training facilities and player development.

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(Darren Staples/AFP via Getty Images)

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