Strasbourg crisis shows fragility of Boehly's Chelsea empire

Tom Weber
Tom Weber
  • Updated: 28 Feb 2024 20:24 GMT
  • 5 min read
Todd Boehly, Behdad Eghbali, Chelsea

Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali need to rethink what they want their multi-club empire to be or risk disaster.

The Chelsea owners' first steps in football have been anything but a success. BlueCo acquired the London giants from ousted Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in 2022 and despite investment in the playing squad totalling north of €1 billion, the Blues are yet again mired in crisis.

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Mauricio Pochettino is under pressure and could become the third permanent head coach to be fired in two years, but equally as worrying as Chelsea's struggles is the fact that sister side RC Strasbourg aren't faring much better. BlueCo's takeover of the Ligue 1 side in the summer was controversial, to say the least.

READ MORE: 'Billion pound bottle jobs' - The only way Chelsea can shake Carabao Cup humiliation

Strasbourg fans heavily protested against Boehly's investment, believing that their 118-year-old club could lose their identity and be turned into a Chelsea farm team. Their suspicions have been proven correct. After the January transfer window, in which they sold captain Matz Sels at the last moment, they unfurled a banner that read: “All our fears about the BlueCo project confirmed in this transfer window.”

Todd Boehly
© IMAGO - Todd Boehly

Lack of expertise

In Ligue 1, Strasbourg are slipping further into danger. Boasting the youngest team in the division, Patrick Vieira is mightily struggling to keep his side competitive, not least because of poor transfers.

According to L'Equipe, Boehly's partner in crime Behdad Eghbali has the final say on transfers despite a limited understanding of football and the industry. It is claimed that, in a bid to maximise game time for Chelsea loanees Angelo and Andrey Santos, Eghbali rejected the chance to sign much-needed reinforcements in January who could have competed for their spots.

Santos was the only immediate arrival at Strasbourg, which further convinced fans that Racing had sold their soul to Boehly and company. It is clear that the French club are very much a Chelsea farm team at this point, and this puts BlueCo's project in danger.

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Todd Boehly and Beghdad Eghbali
© IMAGO - Todd Boehly and Beghdad Eghbali

Boehly's empire risks collapsing

BlueCo are planning to acquire more clubs, potentially investing in an Argentine side further down the line, at least according to the country's controversial president. However, this fledgling empire could collapse before it really gets off the ground.

Boehly and Eghbali have already set a bad example with their treatment of Strasbourg. At this point, multi-club models are the rule rather than the exception in football, but the Chelsea owners' strategy seems much less coherent than that of their peers.

Usually with multi-club models, the idea is for all - or at least most - clubs in that system to be successful, rather than an established, historic side being turned into a mere training ground for academy prospects as Chelsea are doing with Strasbourg.

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City Football Group has established a network of mostly successful football clubs, producing national champions in Australia, India, Japan and turning Girona into LaLiga title contenders. Red Bull transformed RB Salzburg into a nearly unbeatable domestic behemoth, while the New York Red Bulls were once one of MLS's best sides.

Even smaller networks such as that of Brighton owner Tony Bloom have been successful, with Union St. Gilloise returning to the top flight of Belgian football - and immediately challenging for the title - for the first time since 1972 under his stewardship.

While it's still early days for BlueCo, the signs are anything but promising as Strasbourg are just three points off the Ligue 1 relegation play-off spot. Boehly is already persona non grata in Alsace, so one can only imagine what Racing fans would do if their proud club were to drop down to the second division.

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