Chelsea co-owner Todd “The Brain” Boehly talked recently about the ownership group’s intentions to
take over the world expand Chelsea’s footprint in the world of football à la the Red Bull (or Manchester City) model, the so called “multi-club model”.
In line with those plans, we are apparently targeting clubs in places like Portugal, Belgium, and Brazil — places that fit Boehly’s stated desire to form partnerships with “strong clubs” in “competitive leagues” to use, in essence, as feeder clubs, in lieu of the Loan Army model, which has faced increased regulatory pressure from FIFA and has offered inconsistent returns in terms of player development. (And UEFA seem quite okay with the multi-club model, as evidenced by Red Bull Leipzig and Salzburg and so on.)
According to the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Boehly himself has held talks over a potential acquisition in Portugal, with Jorge Mendes possibly involved in those negotiations as well (but of course!). The reports add that Academy supremo Neil Bath is also involved in helping to pick out an ideal club and situation, which hopefully indicates that we’re all aligned on this idea.
Additionally, Chelsea are said to have talked with leading agents about possibly making acquisitions or forming partnerships with clubs in Belgium and Brazil as well.
As with the Portuguese proposition, these are not entirely new ideas in the Chelsea-verse. We had explored similar concepts back in 2015 already — despite our Vitesse “Chelsea B” partnership still going strong at the time — with the likes of Mouscron-Péruwelz (now known as RE Mouscron) and RWS Bruxelles (now defunct) in Belgium and Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal linked in potential relationships of some kind (loans, control, or more). Belgium and Portugal already offered favorable work-permit situations back then, and that’s only become more true post-Brexit.
A year later, in 2016, similar ideas were floated with regards to Grêmio in Brazil, when we sent young (Where is?) Wallace on loan there.
None of these situations progressed to anything even remotely serious or real back then, but the new owners seem much more invested in this potentiality so we might see some follow-through this time.
Chelsea’s newfound keenness to establish a global network of football clubs fits with the recent rumors of us looking to poach RB Salzburg’s Christoph Freund as our Sporting Director. Freund has been a key cog in the Red Bull system for over a decade, and could fit Boehly’s bold vision just the same.
There has been talk in Brazil of a partnership with Santos's academy with Belgium and Portugal named as leagues to buy clubs in.— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) September 14, 2022
There would be favourable work permit circumstances in those leagues and Brexit negatively impacts all English clubs in procuring younger talent.