I have to confess and say prior to 2014 Marina Granovskaia was a name I had never heard of, but by 2020, The Times has labelled her the most powerful woman in football.
So who actually is she?
Well Marina, studied Modern Foreign languages at Moscow state university. It was shortly after graduating in 1997 she became Roman Abramovich’s PA at his oil company Sibneft. In 2003 she along with Abramovich moved to London. Whilst he bought Chelsea FC, she went to work for Millhouse Capital, another Abramovich owned company. She became his official representative at the club in 2010, before succeeding Ron Gourlay as chief executive in 2014 having joined the board the year before.
So why is it the Times have labelled her the most powerful woman in football and the Telegraph have twinned her with Margaret Thatcher as the ‘Iron Lady’? Many have suggested it was the sales of Mohammed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne that influenced Abramovich to bring Marina to the club. The fact that both were sold so cheaply with no future clauses but went onto become superstars is believed to have upset the owner greatly and the fact that no one high up questioned Jose Mourinho in his view to discard them.
Fluent in English, she is believed to be a Tiger when it comes to business. When Eden Hazard was sold to Real Madrid in the summer of 2019, she negotiated a whopping £130 million pound deal for a 28-year-old with only one year left on his contract and recouped a princely sum of £175 million by selling on players such as David Luiz, Alvaro Morata and Thibaut Courtois.
But, it’s not only transfer fees she plays tough with, it’s also with club managers that she keeps in check. Her tough approach with managers Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri perhaps where the ‘Iron Lady’ tag came from. With Conte, she made it very clear to him that he would be the fall guy for the clubs poor performance in his second season as manager, with him citing the clubs lack of transfer activity in the summer of 2017 and presumably him laying the blame at her door for this. Ultimately it was him who was shown the door in the summer of 2018. With Sarri not being taken to the heart by the Chelsea faithful, she ended up making the club money by shipping him off to Juventus. Many Chelsea fans lauded her for such a good deal.
Negotiating transfers… her specialty
The summer of 2020 has led the club to splurge once again reminiscent of the early Abramovich days. Granovskaia has been at the forefront of negotiations and it appears she has an excellent relationship with Frank Lampard as she has delivered all of the predicted transfer targets. Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and the much anticipated Kai Havertz have all been added to the squad for the coming season. Many Chelsea fans are wondering if that could still be the end of the ins and outs. Chelsea still need a goalkeeper and perhaps its Marina who doesn’t want to let Kepa go as she feels the club will take too huge a hit on him? If so then its right to get someone in to challenge Kepa rather than rely on the veteran Caballero (Mendy deal imminent). The jury could still be out on signing another centre back before the October transfer deadline if Chelsea ship goals in just like last season.
However one thing is for certain, Chelsea are in safe hands with Marina, Petr and Frank.