Todd Boehly attended Chelsea’s annual Christmas lunch last week that was documented on the club’s official website with a picture of the American billionaire chatting to guests.
The appearance of Boehly, chief executive Chris Jurasek, board members Lord Finkelstein and Barbara Charone and sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart was well received by the guests inside the glitzy ‘great hall’ at Stamford Bridge.
But what the picture on Chelsea’s website did not show was that Boehly and Co were seated at a table that was cordoned off to most of the 500 attendees and was patrolled by an eagle-eyed security team, who could only be circumnavigated with a flash of a VVIP pass or a neat swerve of the hips.
Those outside Chelsea’s circle of trust were left slightly confused as to why they could not get an audience with Boehly and Co during what was generally considered to be an excellent event, brilliantly hosted by Chris Hollins, son of former player John, and also attended by a host of ex-players.
Members of Boehly’s table were as bewildered as everybody else to be eating their ham hock terrine starters and Norfolk turkey main courses within a roped off section and the billionaire and his guests for the afternoon greeted, shook hands, posed for pictures and chatted to those who managed to get close to them.
But Boehly’s address to supporters was printed in the programme for the annual lunch, rather than delivered in person, which was in many ways indicative of the first 18 months of his ownership, along with Clearlake Capital chief Behdad Eghbali.
Chelsea’s owners have been keen to foster an image of being open and approachable, and yet the vast majority of supporters are yet to hear or read anything unscripted from them at a time when the questions outweigh any obvious answers.