November 30, 2023

Chelsea sporting director Paul Winstanley is facing questions from the club’s owners following Emma Hayes’ shock announcement that she is leaving at the end of the season.

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Mail Sport has learned that Winstanley had been tasked with agreeing a new contract with Hayes at the start of the season, but failed to secure a deal before the club’s iconic manager received an alternative offer from the United States national team.

Hayes is understood to have indicated a desire to stay at Chelsea for the rest of her career during initial talks with the club, but the negotiations were placed on hold due to Winstanley focussing on other issues.

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Stamford Bridge sources have told Mail Sport that securing Hayes’ future on a long-term deal should have been treated as a priority given her extraordinary record of winning six Women’s Super League titles and five FA Cups for the club, leading to widespread frustration that the matter was allowed to drift.

Winstanley’s view is that Chelsea offered to make Hayes the highest-paid manager in the WSL by some distance only for US Soccer to present her with the opportunity of a lifetime.


Hayes has established Chelsea as the dominant force in the women’s game since joining the club as manager in 2012, before which they had not won a single major trophy. The former Arsenal assistant is employed on a rolling contract with no fixed end date, but talks had begun over improving the terms.

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The circumstances leading to Hayes’ impending departure have gone down particularly badly amongst the leadership at Stamford Bridge, as the USA job has been vacant since former coach Vlatko Andonovksi resigned after their surprise World Cup elimination at the last-16 stage in August, leaving Hayes as an obvious target.

The 47-year-old began her coaching career in America with the Long Island Lady Riders before subsequently joining Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash.

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Hayes announced her decision to leave Chelsea following last Saturday’s 6-0 win over Aston Villa. Her decision is understood to have been based on the way US Soccer made her feel valued rather than their financial offer.

Chelsea’s co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali paid tribute to Hayes shortly last weekend in a statement that may have masked their true feelings.

‘Emma’s contribution to Chelsea cannot be overstated,’ they said. ‘She has been a pioneer in women’s football and is hugely respected within the game.’

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