Exclusive: Emma Hayes poised to sign new Chelsea contract

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Emma Hayes, Manager of Chelsea reacts after defeat in the UEFA Women's Champions League Final match between Chelsea FC - Getty Images
Emma Hayes, Manager of Chelsea reacts after defeat in the UEFA Women's Champions League Final match between Chelsea FC - Getty Images

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is poised to put pen to paper on a new contract with the Women’s Super League champions, Telegraph Sport can reveal.

The 44-year-old, who is the most successful manager in the WSL era with four league titles, was a finalist in December’s Fifa Best coach of the year award and has lifted a league and League Cup double with Chelsea this term. Her side were the first British women’s team to reach a European final in 14 years but lost 4-0 to Barcelona on Sunday in Gothenburg, Sweden.

She has been in charge of Chelsea since 2012 and her existing contract - a three-and-a-half-year deal signed during the 2017-18 season - will end this summer. However, Hayes’ love for Chelsea and the club’s backing of her are both absolute.

Sources at the club are delighted that one of the most celebrated coaches in the sport is committing to the club. It is understood the fact Hayes has not already signed a new deal earlier in the season has nothing to do with either party considering anything other than her staying on, but simply that they all wanted the focus and attention to be fully fixed on retaining the WSL title and bidding for European glory first.

The news is likely to delight Chelsea supporters, with whom the former Arsenal assistant coach is extremely popular. While at Arsenal, working under legendary manager Vic Akers, Hayes was among the staff helping the club win an unprecedented quadruple in 2007. She has previously been linked with the England and Team GB jobs.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes and her back room staff celebrate with the FA Women's Super League trophy  - PA
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes and her back room staff celebrate with the FA Women's Super League trophy - PA

This season her Chelsea side lost just one league game out of 22 to clinch the title ahead of rivals Manchester City on the final day of the season with a 5-0 win over Reading.

Hayes’ team next face Everton in the Women’s FA Cup fifth round on Thursday [7pm], in what will be the concluding fixture of the English women’s football domestic season, being played five days later than the other seven fifth-round ties because of Chelsea’s involvement in the Women’s Champions League final.

The Merseyside outfit knocked Chelsea out of last season’s FA Cup, a competition which Hayes has won twice, in 2015 and 2018.

This season’s competition, which was delayed because of coronavirus restrictions which initially prevented lower-league teams from playing their early-round ties, will conclude after the start of the new league season.

The quarter-finals will be staged on Wednesday 29th September, before 31st October’s semi-finals and the Sunday, 5th December’s final at Wembley, which will mark 100 years to the day that the Football Association introduced a ban on women playing football in 1921.

Analysis: Why Hayes and Chelsea the perfect match

Having grown up in Camden, Hayes is a Londoner through and through and, at Chelsea, she has built something special, taking the team from the bottom half of the WSL to lift nine major trophies, as well as winning last August’s Community Shield at Wembley.

She has the full support of owner Roman Abramovich, who flew to Sweden to attend Sunday’s European final in a significant statement of backing for the women’s team. The Russian billionaire spoke to the squad and staff in the dressing room after the defeat and is said to be on excellent terms with Hayes, who has also publicly thanked further senior personnel at the club in recent weeks including club chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia.

After two decades of Arsenal previously dominating the English women’s game, Hayes has since overseen a transitional period to a point now where it is Chelsea who are the first club to have successfully defended the WSL title since 2014 and Chelsea who have the most major trophies in the professional era.

Those who know her best say she now won’t rest until she has won the European title - losing heavily to Barcelona will naturally have hurt, but everybody at the club remains proud of Chelsea’s run to the final, which saw them knock out big brands in Benfica, Atletico Madrid, two-time winners Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich, and club executives, players and staff were quick to vow 'we'll be back' in the final.

Deeply passionate about the success of the wider English game, Hayes is determined to see a WSL club rule the continent and Chelsea have given her the resources, facilities and transfer spending power to go for it.