Chelsea Football Club’s transfer policy has always been a strange one since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.
In its simplest form, Chelsea’s tactic is to spend the mega-millions on already ‘proven’ players – who ironically often flop and fail at the club – whilst simultaneously carrying out seedy under-hand deals for incredibly young players.
It is the latter for which the club have come under serious scrutiny from FIFA and in turn have received a ban on signing players.
That news came last month, however the most recent development from FIFA has ruled that the ban will not be postponed whilst Chelsea’s appeal over the sanction is being heard.
This marks a truly ‘astonishing’ – to use a Chelsea spokesman’s words – and unprecedented turn in proceedings.
It is alleged that twenty-nine signings by the London club have breached FIFA rules. Central to the investigation, and the prime example of where Chelsea have supposedly gone wrong, is the case of Bertrand Traore.
FIFA guidelines state that under-18s can only sign three-year contracts, whilst Chelsea handed him a four-and-a-half-year deal.
On top of this, Traore made twenty-five appearances for the club at various levels – including the first team – before he was officially registered as a Chelsea player in January 2014.
These are just two of the issues FIFA have found, and Traore is just one of the twenty-nine cases football’s governing body have highlighted as problematic.
When the news of the ban initially hit the headlines, it was widely seen that this was not something to get too excited about given FIFA’s previous record of back-tracking on transfer bans.
Real Madrid and Barcelona faced similar bans in 2016 for the signing of under-18s, however Barcelona’s appeal resulted in their punishment being moved back a year, allowing them to prepare themselves for the period.
Real Madrid’s appeal saw their two-window ban be reduced to just one-window.
Chelsea’s appeal may well be successful, but until it is, they are not allowed to sign anyone. It seems a summer parched of new faces is very much on the cards.
The irony of all this is that Traore and no doubt many of the other twenty-nine players have gone on to make minimal contributions on the field for the club.
Traore himself managed just ten league appearances for the Blues and has since been sold to Lyon for a measly £8.8 million.
Chelsea are in trouble for the signing of players who barely even go on to play for the club.
That is just one element of their confusing transfer policy. I am reluctant to refer to their policy as flawed or broken because no club in England has won more major trophies than Chelsea in the past decade.
Successful, though not sustainable, is perhaps a better judgement.
However, when this ban comes into action, there is a cause for optimism in SW6. Fans believe it could trigger a change in the club’s philosophy regarding academy products, giving them previously sparse opportunities.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has had very few chances at Chelsea. Whilst the proposed transfer ban does not prevent Chelsea from selling players, there is a hope it will mean more opportunities for exciting youth prospects.
After all, with over forty players out on loan at the moment, most of which academy graduates – all who can be recalled – Chelsea are not short of options if a ban is implemented.
Image: Chelsea Debs via Wikimedia Commons