Since its founding by businessman Gus Mears in 1905, Chelsea Football Club has had a number of owners. Today, we take an extensive look at who owns Chelsea today, and explore the full history of the Blues’ ownership.
Gus Mears and Family
In the early years of the club’s foundation, success was something that eluded Chelsea. They won promotion to the first division in their second season but from then on went between the first and second division in their early years. The club remained in the first division throughout the 1930s and while they had a reputation for signing star players, success was something that eluded them. They did reach the FA Cup finals in 1920 and 1932.
The club went on to win its first league championship success in 1954-5 under former Arsenal and England centre-forward Ted Drake. Thereafter, the club had failed to win silverware with Drake eventually being replaced by Tommy Docherty in 1961.
The club began to experience troubled times from the 1970s through to the 1980s as the financial stability of the club was threatened.
Ken Bates and Family
In 1982 and with the club in crisis, Chelsea was purchased by Ken Bates for just £1 from Mears great-nephew Brian Mears. The club experienced troubled times initially under Bates’ ownership; though in 1983, manager John Neal guided it to gradual improvement, developing a competitive side with minimal resources.
Prior to the club being relegated in 1988, Neal had achieved consecutive top six finishes. The club reached the 1994 FA Cup final where it lost 4-0 against a Sir Alex Ferguson led Manchester United. It also went on to recruit Ruud Gullit as manager in 1996. Gullit helped the club end a 25-year trophy drought in 1996 as he guided it to the FA Cup after a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the final of the tournament that year.
When Did Abramovich Buy Chelsea?
With the club in financial crisis, Bates opted to sell it to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich for £60 million in June 2003. According to some, Abramovich bought the club on the orders of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, a claim he has denied.
After taking over the club, Abramovich as owner gave the club £100 million to invest on new players and installed Jose Mourinho as manager, replacing Claudio Ranieri. Mourinho arrived after having led FC Porto to the UEFA Champions League. At the time, the self-proclaimed “special one” was one of the most highly rated young managers in World football. Mourinho’s first spell with the Blues was successful as he led it to successive Premier League titles in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons in addition to winning the 2007 FA Cup and League Cups in 2005 as well as 2007.
It was at the start of the 2007-08 season that Abramovich’s trigger happy nature was noticed as Mourinho was replaced surprisingly by Avram Grant. Grant would lead the club to its first ever Champions League final in 2008 which was subsequently lost on penalties to Manchester United.
The Israeli was subsequently also sacked after having failed to lead the club to Champions League glory.
In 2009, the club claimed the FA Cup under interim manager Guus Hiddink and in 2009-10, Carlo Ancelotti led it to the Premier League and FA Cup. In unexpected fashion, interim manager Roberto Di Matteo led the club to the Champions League.
In 2013 after Di Matte was sacked, interim manager Rafael Benitez led the club to Europa League success. Mourinho was appointed as manager of the club for a second spell in 2013, leading it to the League Cup success in 2015 and the 2014-15 Premier League title.
The following season, he was sacked following a poor start to the season. Chelsea subsequently had to wait until the end of the 2016-17 season for their next league title which came under Antonio Conte.
The final trophy of the Abramovich ownership era was the 2021 Champions League, won under the management of Thomas Tuchel.
Who Owns Chelsea Now: The Boehly-Clearlake Era
With Abramovich facing issues as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjord Wyss purchased the club in May 2022 for £4.25 billion.
The club has yet to achieve any success under the new ownership with the first few months proving to be challenging. However, there is hope that the future will be brighter.
Boehly, now chairman proved early on that he is not afraid of making big calls as he sacked Champions League winning manager Tuchel and replaced him with former Brighton boss Graham Potter.
This was a questionable call as Potter had not won a single major trophy in his time with Brighton though he did transform the Seagulls into one of the most exciting teams in England.
Boehly will continue to back the club with investment going forward but his challenge will be to invest it in the right places. Several other clubs can compete with the Blues financially so it comes down to who can invest smartly.