LONDON: Chelsea ceo Roy Gourley is stepping down after 10 years in a surprise administrive change at Stamford Bridge.

Gourlay is leaving to pursue “new business opportunities” and Chelsea have said that chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia will cover his role until a new man is appointed.

He previously worked at Manchester United and sportswear manufacturer Umbro and has spent the last five years as Chelsea’s CEO, and he leaves the Londoners on amicable terms.

A Chelsea statement read: “Chelsea Football Club announces that Ron Gourlay, after 10 successful years at the club including five as chief executive, is leaving Chelsea in order to pursue new business opportunities.

“The club, and in particular the owner and directors, wish to thank Ron for his many years of service to Chelsea and support his desire to seek new challenges. Ron’s efforts have helped the club to achieve its position as one of the leading football clubs in the world.

“Pending additional appointments, chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia will assume additional executive responsibilities.”

Gourlay joined Chelsea in 2004 and worked as chief operating officer before succeeding Peter Kenyon as chief executive in 2009.

He presided over a period in which the Blues won one Premier League title, two FA Cups, the Europa League and the 2012 Champions League, while he also played a key role in the return of Jose Mourinho for a second stint as manager.

Gourlay added: “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, 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.”