Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay steps down to seek “other challenges”

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After a 10-year run with the London club, chief executive Ron Gourlay has announced he will step down from his position so he can “move on to other challenges.”

The club announced in a statement today that Gourlay would be leaving to “pursue new business opportunities.” The statement did not specify whether he will be leaving effective immediately, or if he would stick on until another time, perhaps the end of the season.

The wording of the statement seems to suggest the change is immediate.

Chairman Bruce Buck and Director Marina Granovskaia will “assume additional executive responsibilities” thus serving as his interim replacement until a permanent solution is found.

Gourlay has been with the club for 10 years and has been chief executive for five, moving over from his COO role to succeed Peter Kenyon in 2009.

‘It has been a privilege to have played a role in the club’s considerable achievements both on and off the pitch over the last 10 years,” Gourlay said in the statement, “but I feel the time is right to move on to other challenges. I would like to thank Mr Abramovich, the directors, the manager and players and all the staff for their support during my time at the club, and wish them much continued success in the future.”

It was Gourlay who developed Chelsea’s fondness for a massive squad, sending players out on loan all over Europe and developing relationships with certain clubs where he could send large amounts of young players for development.  Gourlay has long defended the system, saying, “What people don’t see is that it’s a massive development piece. We did that in this way because we like to invest earlier in younger players. These are players we believe in.”