Emma Hayes to leave Chelsea at end of the season to 'pursue new opportunity' away from Women's Super League

Emma Hayes will leave Chelsea at the end of the season (The FA via Getty Images)
Emma Hayes will leave Chelsea at the end of the season (The FA via Getty Images)

Emma Hayes will step down as Chelsea manager at the end of the season after more than a decade in charge of the women's side.

A statement from the club announced that Hayes will "pursue a new opportunity outside of the WSL and club football" following the conclusion of the current campaign, hinting at a possible international job.

Hayes is the longest serving manager in the WSL having been in charge at Chelsea since 2012, winning the title on six occasions since then. The Blues have lifted the Women's FA Cup five times during her reign, including when securing a domestic treble in the 2020/21 campaign.

The announcement of Hayes' departure at the end of the season came after Chelsea's 6-0 win over Aston Villa earlier on Saturday, a result that leaves them top of the WSL table.

Chelsea's sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said in a statement: “Emma has been one of the biggest drivers of change in women’s football. Her achievements at Chelsea are unrivalled and will live in the club’s history forever.

“Given everything she has contributed to Chelsea in over a decade with the club, and the legacy she leaves behind, we would never stand in her way when she felt it was the right time to pursue a new challenge.

“We are pleased that she will remain with the club for the remainder of the season to give us the time to identify her successor.

“There will be plenty of time to celebrate Emma’s many achievements at the club and to give her the farewell she deserves, but for now, as she always has been, Emma will be solely focused on making this season as successful as possible for Chelsea.”

Reports have already started to link Hayes with the USA women's national team, with the hunt for a new manager continuing following Vlatko Andonovski's departure at the end of an unsuccessful World Cup in the summer.

Hayes began her coaching career in the USA with Long Island Lady Riders and later spent two years in charge of Chicago Red Stars, before returning to England and taking the Chelsea job in the summer of 2012.

“Emma’s contribution to Chelsea cannot be understated. She has been a pioneer in women’s football and is hugely respected within the game," Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly and co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali said."

"We look forward to continuing to work together over the coming months.”