Over the past decade, English football fans have heard the name Marina Granovskaia mentioned with increasing regularity. Confidante of Roman Abramovich, and an executive at Chelsea, she has regularly been pictured signing contracts with new signings at Stamford Bridge.
Granovskaia has a long history with former Chelsea owner Abramovich, who sold the club this summer amid sanctions from the UK government amid his alleged links to Russian president Vladimir Putin. She started working as his personal assistant in 1997 after completing a degree at the Foreign Languages Faculty of Moscow State University. She initially worked for him at Russian oil company Sibneft. She has also worked for Millhouse Capital, a company founded in 2001 to manage his business interests.
When Abramovich purchased Chelsea in 2003, she moved to London. Over the years, her influence has grown at the club. By 2010, she was the representative of the owner, ensuring that Abramovich had a day-to-day presence there. She was appointed to the board in 2013, when she started to become a more public personality at the club.
Granovskaia is largely responsible for player transfers and squad management. Her visibility in many of Chelsea’s high-profile transfers has been a key part of her increasingly prominent profile. Granovskaia is also seen as having played a key role in the appointment of manager Thomas Tuchel.
But following the news on June 20, 2022 that chairman Bruce Buck would be stepping down after 19 years with Todd Boehly set to succeed him, Chelsea have now confirmed Granovskaia will be leaving the club too.
A club statement on June 22 read: “The announcement includes the departure of Marina Granovskaia, director of Chelsea FC.
“Boehly will operate as interim sporting director until the Club names a full-time replacement, continuing the Club’s work towards its targets during the current transfer window.
“Chelsea FC and Ms. Granovskaia have agreed that she will remain available to Boehly and the Club for the duration of the current transfer window, to the extent required to support the transition.
“‘We thank Marina for her many years of excellent service to the Club and wish her all the best in her future ventures,’ added Boehly.”
What is Marina Granovskaia’s role and title at Chelsea?
Granovskaia is a director on the board of Chelsea FC plc, along with chairman Bruce Buck, CEO Guy Laurence, and Eugene Tenenbaum. She is also on the football club board with the same people plus director of football operations David Barnard. Her role at the club is focused on squad management and player transfers.
In that role, she works closely with Petr Cech. The former Blues goalkeeper is the technical and performance adviser at the club. It’s his responsibility to provide football expertise to the decision-makers at the club, while Granovskaia appears to be ultimately responsible for targeting players and ensuring deals get done.
It’s no surprise then that she is regularly pictured next to players when they sign a contract. Her role goes beyond managing the playing staff too, as she’s responsible for the broader picture at the club. She handles the direction the coaching staff will take, and was present at the unveiling of Thomas Tuchel, and Maurizio Sarri previously.
When did Marina Granovskaia arrive at Chelsea?
Granovskaia’s first involvement with Chelsea started with Roman Abramovich’s purchase of the club, in 2003. By that time, she already played a key part in overseeing Abramovich’s investments, and that remained the case with Chelsea. Initially, she worked for Abramovich, rather than directly for the club.
Since 2010, her involvement has increased, and from 2013 onwards football fans saw her with much more regularity, as she joined the board of directors at the club. As the makeup of the Chelsea hierarchy has changed over time, Granovskaia has taken on an increasing amount of responsibility. It’s fair to say that her role now, as one of the key decision makers at the club, is a significant change from her initial position as a representative of the owner.
In recent years, she has also become more visibly involved with Chelsea Women, regularly appearing alongside manager Emma Hayes when new signings are unveiled, such as Sam Kerr and Melanie Leupolz. Granovskaia was also pictured in the middle of the dressing room celebrations when the team won the Women’s FA Cup in December.
Which transfer player deals has Marina Granovskaia done at Chelsea?
Granovskaia has had a hand in most, if not all, of the deals that Chelsea have done over the last few years. As mentioned above, she has been involved in decisions involving the coaching staff, and signings made for the women’s team. On the men’s side of the club, Granovskaia is heavily involved in both new signings, and renewing the contracts of, or selling, existing squad players.
She has been present for the contract renewals of young players such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Armando Broja in the past, as well as Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in more recent years.
She has overseen the sales of young players to bring in more established names, with the summer of 2021 seeing the departures of Fikayo Tomori, Marc Guehi, Tino Livramento, and Tammy Abraham, while Romelu Lukaku joined the club from Inter Milan.
The season before that saw Granovskaia spending big, with Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz, and Edouard Mendy all joining the club. Much of the money for that transfer would have come from the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid the year before, with Mateo Kovacic moving in the opposite direction.
It wasn’t her first big-money sale to Real Madrid, as she sold Thibaut Courtois to the Spanish giants the season before, although the 2018-19 season left some questioning the decisions that were taken. The appointment of Maurizio Sarri, as well as the signings of Kepa and Jorginho for big money were less than successful.