Chelsea appoint Lyon's Bompastor as manager

Sonia Bompastor looks on

Women's Super League champions Chelsea have appointed Lyon boss Sonia Bompastor as their manager on a four-year deal.

Compensation has been agreed with the French club for the 43-year-old, who had a year remaining on her contract.

She succeeds Emma Hayes, who left at the end of the season to take charge of the United States women's national team.

Former France captain Bompastor - who took charge of Lyon in 2021 - led them to Women's Champions League success in 2022 and has won three successive league titles.

Her final game in charge was this season's Champions League final in Bilbao, which Barcelona won 2-0.

Lyon’s assistant coaches Camille Abily and Theo Rivrin will join Bompastor at Chelsea.

"I am incredibly grateful to join Chelsea as the head coach of the women's team," Bompastor said. "It is an institution in English football. I will give my all to this new project to meet the ambitions of the club, the staff and the players.

"I hope to live up to Emma's legacy and continue the work that has been done in recent years. Let the adventure begin."

After retiring from an illustrious playing career in 2013, Bompastor became the director of Lyon's women's academy - a position she held for eight years before taking the helm at Europe's most dominant female side.

The former defender, who also won the Champions League twice with Lyon as a player, guided the club to an eighth European crown in her first season in charge with a 3-1 win against Barcelona in the final.

In doing so, Bompastor made history by becoming the first person to win the competition as both a player and a coach and the first female manager to win the competition since Martina Voss-Tecklenburg in 2009

Lyon only lost once in the Division 1 Feminine campaign as they finished 11 points clear, before beating Reims and Paris St-Germain in the play-offs to win the title for a 17th time.

Chelsea's general manager Paul Green said: "Sonia’s vision, coaching philosophy and winning mentality made her the outstanding candidate.

"She is a world-class coach with a proven track record of success on the biggest stages that will instantly command respect from the dressing room."

Sonia Bompastor
Bompastor won the Champions League twice as a player and once as a manager with Lyon [Getty Images]

Analysis: 'A changing era at Chelsea'

Emma Sanders, BBC Sport

The recruitment process for Hayes’ successor was overseen by Chelsea’s sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, as well as women’s general manager Green.

They created a shortlist of four but the club always felt Bompastor was the preferred candidate with her winning mentality particularly standing out.

Chelsea wanted a coach who could handle the pressure of delivering silverware and managing a large squad with different personalities and they were open to all applicants, not just women.

Her experience as a player, as well as a manager, and success in the Women’s Champions League was attractive, while Chelsea were impressed with her desire to challenge herself in a new league.

Hayes is believed to have been consulted in the process and was in agreement with the directors that Bompastor was the best candidate, having coached her when she was a player in the United States.

Bompastor’s arrival will no doubt signify a new era at Chelsea but she could make her mark early in the summer transfer window with the Blues open to acting on any requests from the new manager despite having already gone ahead with their current recruitment plans.

New strategic growth plan for Blues

The club have also announced a re-structuring and a long-term strategic plan for the women’s team in anticipation of a new era in the WSL, which will be taken over by NewCo this summer.

Chelsea sporting directors Winstanley and Stewart will continue to oversee football operations but the women’s team will be led by a new commercial leadership group to enable them to become a standalone business - alongside the men’s team and not underneath it.

The WSL champions will have dedicated resources, management and commercial leadership focused solely on the growth of the women’s team.

It is believed there is a strong desire within the club to attract private investors to the women’s team. Currently, any prospective investor in the WSL is required to go through a men’s team.

BDT & MSD Partners, an American global merchant bank, have worked with Chelsea as financial advisors on a potential minority investment in the club.

With further investment into infrastructure, training facilities and player development, alongside this new strategic evolution, Chelsea hope they will help cement their position as a leading force within the women’s game.