Chelsea’s punishment revealed after Man City’s FFP warning: deduction and relegation looming
The shock of a Premier League club being docked points has taken the football world by storm. Everton, who were earlier this year charged with one count of breaching profit and sustainability rules, have gone from 14th and moderately safe after 12 games to sitting second bottom, only above Burnley on goal difference.
Given that this decision from the league, as announced on Friday, November 17, is the first of its kind in league history, it has opened up a can of worms to deal with. The obvious comparison now being made is with Manchester City.
The current league champions and winners in five of the past six seasons, favourites to do it again this term and off the back of a historic treble, have 115 charges hanging over their heads. Given the numerous genuine allegations made towards their ‘financial doping’ – as Arsene Wenger has dubbed it previously – and social media outrage, things have gotten out of hand.
The announcement of the charges against City came in February 2023, the one against Everton was confirmed as going to an independent commission one month later. Many have questioned just why the Toffees’ outcome has been made public first with unhelpful calls of bribery and riches being at the centre of it. The reality here is the cases are entirely different and also completely opposed in size.
Everton had the one charge against them for financial results in the 2021/22 season. City, on the other hand, are being looked at for dealings over a ten-year period between 2008 and 2018 – a set of dates that accounts for their first title win as well as a handful of others, two FA Cups and four League Cups – and that comes after a five-year investigation presented different claims.
Those claims include inaccurate financial information with others focusing on remunerations towards a former manager and another for non-compliance. City have also been at the centre of allegations and investigations with UEFA who banned and fined the club before it was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Due to the sheer size of the matter at hand with City it is only natural for another commission to take much longer to make their decisions, something which could yet be years away. Everton’s, though far from clear and already being appealed, is a bit simpler.
Where Chelsea come into this is that right now they actually simply don’t. Despite the noise around the club in the past week, a poorly timed, as it were, report of further allegations was made by the Guardian referring to misdeeds under Roman Abramovich’s tenure. As well as uncovered files alleging that Abramovich was moving money towards offshore accounts it has been claimed that he was making sketchy payments in transfers for Willian and Samuel Eto’o with other claims made against the club between 2012 and 2019.
The key factor here though, no matter how murky allegations may be and how much of an easy target the club is due to lavish transfer spending, UEFA contract loopholes and fancy words like amortisation, is that Chelsea haven’t been charged. The Premier League have not charged Chelsea for anything, neither have UEFA and neither has FIFA.
Each governing body has its own set of rules and thresholds that need to be met, each of those holds different sanctions which, yes, do include relegation, points deductions that could be massive or potentially quite small and fines which are hardly too much worry right now.
They have been punished in the past, handed a transfer ban in 2019 but that was away from financial services and due to breaching rules over signing youth players, very notably different again to both Everton and City. It is not a reason to brand them as with a chance of being hit with 30 point deductions or any deductions as it happens.
In fact, the biggest worry for Chelsea right now is what happens with the allegations made against Abramovich. Despite the club insisting that they do not relate to anybody currently at the club there is always the chance that punishment is handed out regardless. Only earlier this year they agreed to pay £8.57million (€10m) to UEFA after reaching a resolution over incomplete financial reporting under Abramovich. It was nothing to do with actions of the current owners, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, but the sanctions were granted either way.
The American businessmen self-reported the gaps in accounts that they found during a period of due diligence around the takeover in May 2022. “In accordance with the club’s ownership group’s core principles of full compliance and transparency with its regulators, we are grateful that this case has been concluded by proactive disclosure of information to UEFAs and a settlement that fully resolves the reported matters,” a statement read earlier this year.
Anything Abramovich based for now that isn’t official is just an allegation, no charges. That is worth remembering as the club’s name is thrown around alongside City and Everton’s right now. The reality is that as the Premier League in-particular seeks to deter clubs from malpractice, and the line in the official statement regarding Everton is a standout and a warning to those around, Chelsea appear an easy target.
“Determination of the appropriate sanction will always involve consideration of the facts and circumstances of the PSR breach, but it is inevitable that when assessing the sanction the need for punishment will be at the forefront of the Commission’s considerations,” the report reads. “The Commission recognises that one of the purposes of a sanction is to provide a deterrent effect.
“That is a legitimate purpose of the sanction. That would not, however, justify the imposition of a penalty that was disproportionate to the extent of the wrongdoing in any individual case. We also recognise the need to protect the integrity of what is such an important sport – although we consider that some of the observations made in Bolton have greater resonance when dealing with membership of a professional body than with the operation of a regulated sport.”
It was also made clear that Everton, despite being only marginally over the breaking point for rules and claims to have co-operated fully – the commission did add that there was not total honesty – had gained an advantage due to their decision making and financial impact and that that was what had to be considered. Again, right now that isn’t of worry to Chelsea.
In the future they may be pressed and found guilty or investigated for Abramovich’s role but currently this is simply not the case. The club have contacted those necessary to make them aware of the certain transactions in the Abramovich era, distancing themselves from it and attempting to bridge what has been a rocky road in recent times.
It is this history of Chelsea though, the big spenders under Abrmamovich throughout his time in charge, the brazenness of the club between 2003 and 2017 when the title machine was at its peak, that really fuels much of this narrative. Chelsea have done wrong before, there are allegations of more wrongdoing that is taken out of context and often totally inaccurately, and it is turned into something that right now doesn’t exist.
There will remain questions over how the club, having spent over £1billion on new players, can also possibly be within regulations now after the past three transfer windows but again that is not something that is of real interest as there are no charges, no investigation and no imminent threat of sanctions.
It may be in the long-run, especially if spending continues and they don’t get back into European places, but to compare the situation to Manchester City and Everton is wrong, even comparing the two charged clubs is missing a lot of the point.
If Chelsea do come under investigation by the league, UEFA or FIFA then perhaps at that time it would be right to be fearful or the potential ramifications. Everton’s advantage might have been a lot smaller than anything Chelsea gained but this is ultimately what the club would be defending and what any panels or commissions would be tasked with finding out. It’s all a hypothesis and a guess though because there are no charges and Chelsea have, at this stage, simply done nothing wrong.
It is only right to remember this now because already the fearmongering has begun. It’s nothing new for Chelsea, similar suggestions were made when the club was impacted by the sanctions imposed on Abramovich by the UK government in 2022. Things on the pitch haven’t gone to plan since but the club lives on.