Bompastor confirmed as Hayes’ replacement at Chelsea

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Bompastor confirmed as Hayes’ replacement at Chelsea

Sonia Bompastor has been confirmed as Chelsea Women’s new head coach, signing a four-year deal.

The 43-year-old, who replaces Emma Hayes, joins Chelsea from Lyon after three years in charge at the French club where she won seven trophies, including three French league tiles and the Women’s Champions League in 2022.

Bompastor won her third Division 1 Feminine in the 2023/24 season, but lost in Saturday’s Champions League final against Barcelona.

She will be accompanied by her assistants Camille Abily and Theo Rivrin. Abily retired in 2018 after an accomplished playing career in which she made 323 appearances for Lyon and earned 183 national team caps for France.

Chelsea general manager Paul Green said: “The sporting directors and I conducted a thorough and considered recruitment process to identify Emma’s successor.

“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.”

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French football journalist Julien Laurens believes Lyon head coach Sonia Bompastor is the ideal choice to succeed Emma Hayes as Chelsea manager

Chelsea’s co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley added: “Sonia is the ideal candidate to build on Emma’s legacy and take the team forward.

“She brings a wealth of experience from managing at the highest levels and winning trophies as a player and a coach. Her ethos and values align with Chelsea Football Club. We are all looking forward to having her on board.”

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Hayes, who has joined the United States women’s national team, left Chelsea after securing a record fifth Women’s Super League title in a row.

It ended a 12-year spell in west London where she won 14 major domestic titles, including seven WSL titles, five FA Cups and two League Cups.

Who is Sonia Bompastor?

Sonia Bompastor coached Lyon to Champions League success in 2022

Image: Sonia Bompastor coached Lyon to Champions League success in 2022

There were two criteria that Chelsea were looking for when appointing a manager to fill Hayes’ impossibly large shoes.

Any new manager must maintain the success of the club. Chelsea have dominated domestic football in England for years, and have begun to assert themselves in Europe too.

A female coach has also been high on their wishlist. In Hayes, Chelsea have had a trailblazer. One of the game’s chief champions who has been responsible for growth and change – a major player in improving the overall health of the sport.

The fact she has done so from a female perspective is equally important. Hayes entered the game at a time when very few female voices were taken seriously – a gap in experienced female head coaches still exists to this day.

How familiar faces could help Bompsator settle in the WSL

Bompastor will have familiar faces to greet her on her first day at Cobham. Kadeisha Buchanan and Macario both joined Chelsea from Lyon and have played under the incoming coach already.

France international Eve Perisset too will know her fellow compatriot, while Ashley Lawrence will have faced Bompastor with PSG.

There will also be a shared language there too. Although Bompastor is thought to speak good English, players who can understand her in French is always a plus.

It will also help her adapt to the WSL as well as life across the Channel, and Abdullah agrees that having some of her former players at the club will be useful.

“I don’t know how well she’ll do,” he said. “Lyon was essentially her first big job and when you’re given a big team in a league you’re expected to dominate, it’s a little easier – but winning the Champions League was impressive.

“I think she’ll take a little while to adapt, so it’s important that she gets players she knows along with the squad she has. Buchanan, Macario, and Perisset are players she’ll be familiar with, given she’s coached the former two and won the Champions League with them. So implementing her ideas will be a little easier.”

And Bompastor fits both – she is another woman managing at a top European club, with a proven track record of success.

“Sonia is another big personality,” writer and analyst Abdullah Abdullah told Sky Sports. He has written books on both Lyon and Chelsea’s journeys in European competition.

“She came into a Lyon dressing room that needed guidance after they lost their way a little bit under the previous manager. She is a legend of the club and French football so she was instantly respected and lauded internally.

“That gave her a foundation with the French players. This can be replicated at Chelsea with someone who is a legend, but has also played the game-winning Champions League and league titles.”

Read the feature in full here.

Chelsea announce strategic growth plan

Alongside Bompastor’s arrival, Chelsea also announced a “long-term strategic plan to accelerate the growth of Chelsea Women”.

With NewCo set to take over the running of the WSL and Women’s Championship from the FA next season, Chelsea are using the opportunity to take on a new structure to sit alongside the men’s team, rather than beneath. It will include dedicated resources, management and commercial leadership focused solely on the women’s team.

Chelsea are also looking for new investment for their women’s side, with a club statement explaining: “Currently, any prospective investor into a WSL team is required to invest through a men’s team.

“Having analysed the market and discussed with investors, there is a strong desire for an opportunity to invest solely into the women’s game… BDT & MSD Partners, a global merchant bank, has been engaged as financial advisor on a potential minority investment in the club, inclusive of evaluating inbound interest related to Chelsea Women.

“The club ownership group will continue to be the controlling shareholder of Chelsea and is committed to further substantial investments that will enrich the squad, elevate player development, and ensure a world-class environment for our athletes and staff.”

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