If you don’t know the name, it’s just that she doesn’t want you. Marina Granovskaya is the ultra-private director of Chelsea Football Club, who has been hailed as the “first lady of football” for her extremely quick-witted negotiating skills.
Despite never having a public interview – and the businesswoman’s only insight through a bizarre photo on Chelsea’s website – there is no doubt about the extent of her influence. Last year, he was named the best club director in European football. Granovskaia is undoubtedly an off-pitch powerhouse.
Chelsea fans will then be disappointed to hear this week’s announcement that Granovskaya is stepping down from his role – along with an alleged £ 20 million exit bonus. The decision comes as US businessman Todd Bohli completes his takeover of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
So how did Granovskaia become “the most powerful woman in football”?
Roman Abramovich’s right-hand woman
Roman Abramovich, the former owner of Granovskaya and Chelsea, has a long history. They first began working together in 1997, when Granovskaya graduated with honors from Moscow State University with a degree in foreign languages. She is a native Russian speaker and fluent in English and many other European languages - but, it is claimed, if she loses her temper, she chooses to swear in her mother tongue.
Granovskaya first started as a personal assistant to Abramovich at his oil company, Subnift, and then did a brief stint at Mill House, Oligarch’s asset management firm. Until 2003, she was assisting him in running her London office as Defective Chief of Staff and offering PR advice. He was also given a luxury apartment inside the Stamford Bridge complex.
First lady of football
It was in 2003 that Granovskaya first joined Chelsea. Over the next seven years, he increased his influence on Stamford Bridge when he began helping to transfer millions of pounds. Granovskaia’s negotiating power was immediately felt as it led to the renewal of contracts of key players such as John Terry.
Success, day after night, follows its selected teams. Abramovich’s two Premier League victories in his first three years and his participation in five Champions League semi-finals in his first six soon established the club at the global level.
On top of all the trophies he helped collect, Granovskaya was also instrumental in establishing a relationship with Dutch club Vetsy Arnhem, which to this day serves as a breeding ground for most of Chelsea’s young talent. He also arranged to visit Chelsea’s new training ground in Coimbatore, which opened in 2007 and is one of the best in the country.
All of this helped strengthen his position on Stamford Bridge, and he was given the official role of Abramovich’s representative in 2010. Within three years, he was sworn in on the club’s board, and in 2017 he demonstrated his tremendous negotiating power by tying Nike to £ 60 million. – One year (£ 900m total) shirt sponsorship deal with Chelsea – which runs until 2032.
“He is basically a force at Chelsea,” a source told Meczyki. “Roman has full confidence in her. She is not interested in becoming a celebrity, but there is no doubt about who is in charge and who calls the shots.”
Granovskaya has mastered the art of arranging some of Chelsea’s biggest transfers in the last decade. Rewarding Fernando Torres from Liverpool’s clutches in 2011, even at £ 50 million, was no small feat, nor was Atletico Madrid after scoring just one goal against Lionel Messi in La Liga’s 2013/14 scoring charts. The striker was fighting to sign Diego Costa.
According to the New York Times, when she was finally appointed as the club’s chief executive officer in 2014, it made her “the most powerful woman in football.”
A life of luxury
Working for one of the richest football clubs in the world comes with a fair share of benefits. First of all, his seven figure salary is said to be between £ 1.5-2 million per year – not to mention the £ 20 million exit bonus. Overall, Granovskaia’s personal value is estimated at a staggering 9 1.9 billion. But how does she spend it?
Well, his favorite restaurant is the Knightsbridge eater, Somosen Toiga, founded by the former Beniton. [later Renault F1] Flavio Bratator, principal of the Formula One team.
As far as any news about her home, any child, or partner? She stays funny. And she definitely avoids social media.
What does it mean for Chelsea’s future?
Granovskaya’s departure means the search for a new sports director continues, with Atletico Madrid’s Andrea Berta leading the charge. Owner and newly appointed chairman Bohli will serve as interim sports director.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. He is discussing the return of Romelu Lukaku’s loan to Inter.
This responsibility will also be shared by manager Thomas Tochl, who Bohli allegedly wants to give more power to recruitment.
There are also questions about the future of Peter Sachs, who serves as the club’s technical and performance adviser and consults on conversions. He may also decide to leave Stamford Bridge after a change of ownership, although his ties to the previous government and to Roman Abramovich are stronger than Granovskaya’s.
As far as Granovskaia’s next move is concerned, some fans have jokingly said that its overall value is so high that it can afford to buy Everton, which was allegedly put up for sale by Farhad Mushiri.
While that is unlikely, one thing is certain: she could fulfill any dream of a football fan she had ever dreamed of.