Chelsea confirm exit of long-serving academy guru amid management restructure

Neil Bath, Joe Edwards, Assistant Manager Jody Morris and U23 Manager Andy Myers of Chelsea watch the Chelsea FC v Arsenal FC Premier League U18 match at Chelsea Training Ground on January 4, 2020
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Clive Howes - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea have confirmed that director of football development and operations Neil Bath has decided to step down after more than 30 years at the club.

After initially joining the Blues on a part-time basis in 1993, Bath impressed during his first decade at the club and was appointed assistant academy director in 2002 with responsibility for the under-8 to under-16 age groups. Two years later, he became academy manager and oversaw the development of their youth development programme.

Bath helped guide Chelsea to six FA Youth Cup titles in seven years in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and has been instrumental in a number of players progressing from the academy and into the first-team. Bath was appointed as director of football development and operations in November 2022, with his remit increasing across Cobham while overseeing the development programme and the under-21s.

But now Bath has taken the decision to leave the Blues, as another change is made as part of a restructure in the club's academy. Bath told the club website: "After 30 years working at Chelsea, I feel it is the right time for me to have some time off and take a break from a job that I have put so much time into.

"I intend to rest and have some time away from the game, however I will continue working over the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition for the organisation. As an Academy, we have enjoyed fantastic backing from the Club throughout my time here, without which none of our success would have been possible.

"I would like to thank every single person—player, parent, colleague, supporter - who has been on this journey with us. We achieved everything we could possibly have dreamed of - five Youth Cups in a row, countless debuts, homegrown players helping the team win the Champions League - and we did it together."

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The Chelsea Ownership Group said: "Neil built the foundations for the Chelsea academy at Cobham and his unwavering commitment, dedication and pursuit of excellence set unparalleled standards across the sport. His legacy will live on and the most fitting tribute we can give to him for more than 30 years’ service is to uphold those standards in the years to come."

Sporting Directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said: "Neil’s legacy in football will stand the test of time. His contribution to not only the success of our Academy but youth football across the world cannot be understated. He has been a pleasure to work with since we joined the Club, illustrating the very highest of work ethics and commitment."