Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Tsarina of Stamford Bridge; Meet the Most Powerful Woman in Football: Abramovich's Former PA Who Brought Mourinho Back to Chelsea and Launched F-Word Tirade at John Terry

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Tsarina of Stamford Bridge; Meet the Most Powerful Woman in Football: Abramovich's Former PA Who Brought Mourinho Back to Chelsea and Launched F-Word Tirade at John Terry

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn Consumer Business Editor

THE shadowy Tsarina of Stamford Bridge has been behind almost every major decision at Chelsea over the past four years while remaining virtually unknown.

Now Marina Granovskaia, arguably the most powerful woman in world club football, has finally been thrust into the public glare.

Insiders say Ms Granovskaia, the trusted former PA to Chelsea's oligarch owner Roman Abramovich is the real and undisputed "Special One" at the club following the departure of its chief executive Ron Gourlay yesterday.

One source close to the club, currently topping the Premier League, said: "She is basically the power at Chelsea. Roman trusts her implicitly. She's not interested in being a celebrity but there is no doubt who's in charge and who call the shots.

"It is symbolic of her role that she was crucial in getting Jose (Mourinho) back. He had fallen out with Roman in very acrimonious and public circumstances and received a massive pay-off.

"It would have been very egg on face for Roman to bring him back even though the fans and players were calling for it. She was the one who said 'let's bring him back' and was the driving force behind the move. And it's paid off big time."

Ms Granovskaia, 39, is also alleged to have faced down club captain and fans' favourite John Terry when the defender was holding out for better contract terms this summer and told him to "take it or f***ing leave it."

She was also instrumental in a string of marquee signings including Fernando Torres and David Luiz in 2011 and Diego Costa this summer.

Remarkably little is known about Ms Granovskaia's background. She grew up in Moscow in the tumultuous Eighties and Nineties when Communism collapsed and was followed by the "wild east" days of chaotic privatisation.

She was educated at the exclusive music and dancing academy School 1113, which also produced one of Russia's best known pop stars Yulia Volkova of duo tATu. …

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