Chelsea are alongside Manchester City as two of the most likely clubs to be punished in the future for breaches of financial rules. However, unlike the current Premier League champions, the Blues are not currently waiting for an outcome from an independent commission.

After Everton’s shock 10-point deduction gripped the minds of the football world over the weekend it has been quickly moved from discussions over their punishment towards what will happen next. The Toffees have already become the first team in league history to be sanctioned like this for breaking profit and sustainability rules but more look set to follow.

Only earlier this year it was revealed that a five-year investigation into Manchester City would be going to an independent commission after the club were charged with over 100 breaches themselves. It is a (potential) scandal that has rocked the sporting world but has become more relevant once again now that a precedent has been set.

Far from being as simple as multiplying Everton’s punishment by 115, there is an ongoing and lengthy process to decide just what, if any, the punishment will be for City. Amongst the possible outcomes is relegation, a points deduction of seemingly any size as well as huge fines.

The league itself has already laid down the marker now, insisting that a deterrent is now needed to stop further wrongdoing in the top flight. It seems like the gloves are off and that anything is on the table.

However, Chelsea are also in the conversation. Due to their history under Roman Abramovich and the perceived notion of misdeeds during mass spending between 2003 and 2022, the club are spoken of as if they are at risk of being banded alongside City and Everton. The current landscape is very different though.

The Blues have not yet been charged by the league or by European and world football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA. There are question marks throughout the sporting scene over how the current owners, a consortium fronted by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, can afford and get away with the transfer dealings of the past 18 months but that is also not an issue for now.

What is more pressing are allegations of actions by the club under Abramovich, some of which have already been punished. So, with the club spoken of like doomsday awaits but the reality looking very different, here is every time they have been punished already by the powers that be within football.

To start with, to reiterate, there are no current charges against the club. There is no imminent punishment expected and although this could change any day it is wrong to presume that this is just waiting to happen. However, it would not be the first time that the club have been involved with financial fair play (FFP) regulations before.

Only early this year it was announced by UEFA that the club had been fined £8.6million (€10m) for ‘submitting incomplete financial information’ during Abramovich’s reign as owner. The announcement over investigations was made in July 2023 to the surprise of many with Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) First Chamber chair Sunil Gulati revealing them.

Things could have been worse though with Juventus excluded from European competition for their own wrongdoings. Juventus were also threatened with a further fine if the coming reports do not comply with requirements. The Blues, on the other hand, reached a settlement.

This was something that came about due to the owners reporting their own findings to the establishment. It was described as a ‘proactive’ process and Chelsea themselves released a statement writing: “Chelsea FC’s ownership group completed its purchase of the club on 30 May 2022. During a thorough due diligence process prior to the completion of the purchase, the ownership group became aware of potentially incomplete financial reporting concerning historical transactions during the club’s previous ownership.

“Immediately following the completion of the purchase, Chelsea self-reported these matters to UEFA.

“Chelsea has fully cooperated and assisted UEFA with its investigation of these matters and, following an analysis by the UEFA Club Financial Control Body, the club has entered into a settlement agreement with UEFA. Under that settlement, the club is to pay a financial contribution of €10m to UEFA as a fixed payment.

“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 UEFA and a settlement that fully resolves the reported matters.

“We wish to place on record our gratitude to UEFA for its consideration of this matter. Chelsea greatly values its relationship with UEFA and looks forward to building on that relationship in the years to come.”

That came out of the blue though years of relative quiet off the field despite all of the tumult on it. It was probably only right, as well. In February 2019 the club was banned from signing players for two transfer windows, a true statement and a real punishment, the biggest in the club’s history.

This ban came from FIFA after the club were found guilty of breaching rules related to signing players under 18. It came just a month after they signed Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund and was appealed by the club. FIFA said in a statement at the time that Chelsea, “breached article 19 of its regulations in the case of 29 minor players and have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players.”

It added that Chelsea also, “breached article 18bis of the Regulations in connection with two agreements it concluded concerning minors and which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.” Chelsea were also fined £460,000 ($599,000) and had three months to ‘regularise the situations of the players concerned.’

The investigation from FIFA into Chelsea had been widened to include the arrangements with over 100 foreign players under 18 but the defence was that many individuals were on trial and were not signed. A statement from the club said: “Chelsea FC has today received a decision from the FIFA disciplinary committee concerning alleged breaches of the FIFA regulations that relate to the international transfer of players under the age of 18.

“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA disciplinary committee and will therefore be appealing the decision.

“The club wishes to emphasise that it respects the important work undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and has fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation. Chelsea FC acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will shortly be submitting its appeal to FIFA.”

The findings came after a three-year investigation from 2016 after images of Burkino Faso international Bertrand Traore emerged with the forward playing against Arsenal as a 16-year-old. Traore left the club one year later to join Lyon for around £9million but worries had emerged that Chelsea were breaking regulations that prohibit teams from signing those under-18 from outside England unless their parent had moved for non-footballing reasons or that player and club are within 50km of a national border.

This was the biggest and remains the biggest punishment for the club to date and came after Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid had all been found guilty as well. Los Blancos had their ban reduced to one window after it was appealed through the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Blues eventually had their own ban cut down to one window, one that had already been served by the time of the announcement in December 2019.

FIFA also fined the FA for breaching transfer regulations, giving it ‘a period of six months to address the situation concerning the international transfer and first registration of minors in football.’ The fine was the same amount as Chelsea’s and an FA spokesperson said at the time they would ‘continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.’

Chelsea were able to sign Mateo Kovacic permanently in the summer of 2019 despite the ban due to terms in his loan contract at Stamford Bridge that included an option to buy. Loanees were also able to join up and Frank Lampard would eventually lead the club in the 2019/20 season after Maurizio Sarri departed over the summer.

The club managed to largely stay out of UEFA and FIFA’s bad books since then with just the most recent fine coming. Under the current owners there has been no official punishment handed out yet for issues relating to their own activities, something they will be keen to keep up.

Their amortisation ‘loophole’ was closed earlier this year though with new contract rules being brought in. The club had been handing out mammoth deals to new signings over eight years, allowing them to report the transfer cost over the length of the contract, reducing yearly costs and allowing for the influx and rebuild to happen.

After complaints were made it has since been changed so that the costs can only be spread across a maximum of five years of the length of the contract, whichever one is short. This means that if they were to sign Enzo Fernandez now rather in January there would be more than £20million in yearly costs plus wages as opposed to the £13million and wages they currently pay.

Worries over what is to come will remain though and stories are only likely to continue circling for the foreseeable future with City, Everton and Abramovich all in the spotlight. For now, the relationship with FIFA, UEFA and the FA is different but Boehly-Clearlake have already made their attempts to change that clear.

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