She has risen to become one of the most powerful women in football, but who is Chelsea transfer chief Marina Granovskaia?
Roman Abramovich’s chief lieutenant operates strictly in private. She has never given a media interview and even her occasional comments to Chelsea’s official website are tellingly brief, but they leave little doubt as to the scope of her authority.
When Marcos Alonso extended his contract at Stamford Bridge in October, it was Granovskaia who was quoted in the club’s press release. Manager Maurizio Sarri’s name was notable for its absence.And on the odd occasion she does find herself in the limelight it is rarely out of choice and this week was no different.
Rising up at Chelsea.
The Russian-Canadian has been a close ally of owner Roman Abramovich for more than 20 years. They first came into contact when she joined a Russian oil company he had just taken over in 1997. When he sold it seven years later for almost 250 times the purchase price, he had already taken over at Chelsea – and brought Granovskaia to London with him.
Over the next seven years, while she increased her influence at Stamford Bridge, success followed like clockwork. Two Premier League wins in Abramovich’s first three years and five Champions League semi-final appearances in his first six soon established the club on the world stage.
Away from the trophies, Granovskaia was a long-term planner. It has been reported she was integral in building relations with Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem, who to this day act as a breeding ground for much of Chelsea’s young talent. She also orchestrated the move to Chelsea’s new training ground at Cobham, which opened in 2007 and is one of the best in the country.
All that helped to cement her position at Stamford Bridge, and she received the official role of Abramovich’s representative in 2010. Within three years she was sworn onto the club’s board, and in 2017 she demonstrated her fierce negotiating power by tying Nike into a £60m-a-year shirt sponsorship deal with Chelsea – which runs all the way until 2032.
How has she shaped Chelsea’s history?
Granovskaia’s final say on transfers has not always been well-received by Chelsea’s managers. Antonio Conte referred cryptically to decisions by “the club” at times last season when defending his own transfer record, and successor Sarri said “the board know what I want” when his pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain looked rocky at the start of last month.