Chelsea set to lose two key figures who helped save club under Frank Lampard – Football News

Chelsea set to lose two key figures who helped save club under Frank Lampard

Neil Bath and Jim Fraser helped Frank Lampard thrive at Chelsea (Image: Getty)

Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea have suffered an early summer setback following confirmation academy chiefs Neil Bath and Jim Fraser will leave the club. The announcement comes amid a major restructure of the academy, which has been one of the most prolific in Europe for almost 20 years.

It was under the care of Bath and Fraser that Cobham became a hub for producing and developing some of the continent’s finest youth talent. However, Chelsea are now under pressure to maintain put adequate coaching quality in place to retain that reputation.

The top-flight giants were made to rely more heavily on homegrown talent in 2019 when they were prevented from signing any new players due to a transfer ban. The suspension – which was imposed for transfer breaches – meant Frank Lampard had to look within to make any success of his first reign as manager.

Despite the restrictions, academy graduates like Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori played major roles in keeping the club competitive. Much of that success was attributed to their youth bosses, who helped ease the burden on Lampard to produce a squad capable of playing at the elite level.

Bath was handed the title of academy manager in 2004 and hired Fraser as his assistant the following year. After a few years of putting their plans into place, it wasn’t long before the Blues institute became a juggernaut of youth development, resulting in two UEFA Youth League titles, two under-21 Premier League crowns, seven FA Youth Cups and much more under the pair’s tenure.

Neither Bath nor Fraser have confirmed plans or their reasons for leaving Stamford Bridge as things stand. However, the Telegraph’s Matt Law reported Bath has left on amicable terms and with the club’s best wishes.

Chelsea FC End of Season Awards

Fraser (right) has been a key figure in Chelsea’s youth development for 19 years (Image: Getty)

After excelling as academy chief, Bath was promoted to head of youth development in 2011. Fraser then took over that role – which includes overseeing the club’s reserves – in 2023 when Bath became director of football development and operations.

Their exits mean owner Todd Boehly is under a strain to put together a new crack team capable of keeping standards high at Chelsea’s industry-leading facility. That’s particularly the case when the west Londoners are having to reduce transfer spend following several years of excessive splurging under the America.

The Athletic reported the remodel is expected to be led by Joe Shields, co-director of recruitment and talent, and Sam Jewell, the club’s director of global recruitment. And the club will need plans in place sooner rather than later as new manager Maresca gets underway in his work.

An official announcement on the academy changes is expected to follow in the coming days. The project will also see the youth facilities updated, with Boehly and Clearlake Capital investing funds to revamp certain academy buildings in a bid to stay ahead of the competition.