It’s not often you hear of a music journalist and author from Chicago sitting on the board of Premier League football clubs.
But, in Barbara Charone’s case, she couldn’t be happier to hold such a prominent position at the club of her heart.
The opportunity arose for Charone to sit on the board following a phone call out of the blue.
“I was so depressed like all Chelsea fans when the club got frozen, it was just such a low point for everyone and hard to believe it was real,” Charone told talkSPORT.
“I got a text from (a friend) Danny in the middle of March saying can you call me about Chelsea, so obviously I called straight away and he’s friends with Jonathan Goldstein.
“I spoke with Jonathan who worked for Todd [Boehly], then I met with him two days later and we had a great chat. After about 40 minutes he said, ‘We’re announcing [a Chelsea bid] tomorrow’, and it was just game on.
Boehly took ownership of Chelsea Football Club in May and despite his relatively short time at the club, Charone has been delighted by the impact he has made.
“Todd Boehly? I’ve been incredibly impressed by him, he’s a real communicator, he’s accessible, he’s approachable,” Charone said.
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“The first time I went to meet him at the Real Madrid home game I was for some reason worried about what to wear.
“He’s not somebody, I don’t think, that spends a lot of money on clothes. He’s some much more just about football.”
Charone admitted to knowing little about football when she permanently moved to England in 1974, despite residing close to Stamford Bridge.
“I didn’t even know about football but I was a sports fan. I went to baseball in Chicago a lot with my dad and he’d drive me to hockey and American football.
“The first four years that I lived in the UK, I didn’t even know football existed.
“I’d work all day and at night make dinner have a glass of wine and watch TV and the only thing on Wednesday night was Midweek Sports Special. It was that or ‘Cooking in Wales’ so I opted for the Midweek Sports Special and I just started to watch football.
“It was towards the end of the season, I lived on Sloane Street and the nearest ground was Chelsea. It was the season they were just going down, they were always yo-yo-ing between the first and second division.”
Football began to capture the imagination of the former NME and Rolling Stone writer and she decided to experience all that Stamford Bridge had to offer in person.
“I started to go to football and I dragged people there that didn’t really care but wanted to have a few beers at lunch – I’ve had a season ticket since the early 80s,” said Charone.
“I’m completely obsessed. Some people just watch their team; I watch every game. I hate international weeks.
Charone knows that she now has an important role at Chelsea by connecting the voice of the fans to the board room and believes that her 40 years as a season ticket holder provided her with the experience needed for the position.
“I think they’re really just looking for a voice of the fan, to have that balance.
“I’ve had a season ticket for 40 years now – I think that’s invaluable that kind of experience, to have seen Chelsea through all the changes and to be a true fan. I’m really excited about it.
“We’ve got a great squad and we’ve got a lot of great young players. The women’s team is doing great, it’s a really exciting time.
“The stadium needs work done. In an ideal world, we’d stay there and do it stand by stand but a lot of that remains to be seen.
“Aside from being a fan, having a woman on the board is absolutely fantastic. They wanted to put the two fan voices on the board but they wanted a female too so I think that’s great.”
Charone reveals the title-winning game at Bolton in 2005 and the Champions League victory in Munich in 2012 were the two greatest days of her life.
“When I started going to Chelsea, I never thought I’d see us win the FA Cup. I remember when we lost 4-0 to Man United in the 1994 FA Cup final after Gavin Peacock hit the post.
“I remember at Bolton in 2005, I used to always bet on (Frank) Lampard to score the first goal – and he scored twice so I made £200 and we won the league.
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