Why re-signing Frank Lampard makes sense for Chelsea executives Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali... and it has as much to do with an upcoming Earl’s Court PR battle as it does with an on-field fix
The appointment of Frank Lampard as caretaker coach is unlikely to improve Chelsea’s season: Although it has been said before, winning the Champions League feels like a long shot, and there is nothing to play for on the domestic front.
What it will do, however, is restore the buzz. Not the boos heard last time out at Stamford Bridge under Graham Potter, nor the short-term optimism, but simply the buzz of excitement.
Lampard’s return is a great way for Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali to gain some goodwill ahead of one of the most important periods in the club’s 113-year history. The future of Stamford Bridge looms large, as does what Chelsea do next.
The new owners can hardly be accused of lacking financial backing or interest in the 10 months since they took over from Roman Abramovich: Nearly £600 million has been spent on players, two managers have been fired, and the figureheads have visited Cobham frequently enough to make some players nervous.
While the commitment is there, a public opinion poll on the new regime would not show competence. Their team is 11th in the Premier League, the squad is overcrowded, and Potter appeared to be a bad fit from the start.
Ticket price increases have been hinted at – but not confirmed – in club-organized fan forums, and they are unlikely to go down well in a time of economic strife vs big Premier League spending.
But the big fight is coming up between Stamford Bridge and Earl’s Court. The official line is that Chelsea is ‘exploring options’ for relocating.
The Blues want to make a decision between staying in their current home and moving less than a mile away by the summer. Architects are being evaluated, preferences are being formed, and the mood music suggests Earl’s Court is becoming more appealing.
That is for the purpose of ownership. More convincing will be required for the fans. Late last month, it was reported that one group was threatening ‘Super League-style’ protests if Chelsea left their 40,341-capacity permanent home. Others would welcome the opportunity to avoid spending four years on the road at Wembley, Twickenham, Craven Cottage, or elsewhere while the stadium is being rebuilt.
Chelsea’s core fan base is essential for Boehly and Eghbali. If Chelsea are to continue playing under the name ‘Chelsea,’ the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) organization must approve any move away from Stamford Bridge.
CPO also owns the freehold to Stamford Bridge, and the club’s new owners will almost certainly consider a buy-out to help provide a significant portion of the funding needed for a new stadium costing billions at a significantly lower cost than market value.
But it’s not that simple.
In that regard, Abramovich failed in 2012. Any attempt to purchase the land on which the Stamford Bridge stands would require 75 percent approval from CPO shareholders, of which the then-popular Russian received only 61.5 percent.
If Chelsea decides to leave Stamford Bridge, the current owners will need a solid plan to persuade any skeptics that leaving is the best option. And, in this situation, giving the impression of understanding fan sentiment by turning to their hero helps.
The stadium issue is resurfacing – and quickly.
Lampard is the messiah at Chelsea, despite the fact that his last managerial stint in SW6 ended in early 2021. Instead of the recent drab disappointment, Chelsea fans will be energised and excited on Saturday at Molineux shortly before 3pm.
If Boehly, Eghbali, and company are to push harder for Earl’s Court, they will need to be in a better mood in the coming months.
Appointing Lampard is a short-term team fix that will result in long-term goodwill.
Stranger things have happened, as Lampard will attest, than a mid-season fans’ favourite taking over from an unpopular ‘project’ manager and winning the Champions League.
Why re-signing Frank Lampard makes sense for Chelsea executives Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali
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