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Chelsea FC is on a big shopping spree

Premier League club Chelsea FC broke records in the winter transfer window. The Londoners alone spent more money on new players than the first-division clubs in France, Italy, Spain, and Germany combined.

Mykhailo Mudryk celebrates scoring in Ukraine's friendly against Borussia Mönchengladbach in May 2022.
The Ukrainian Mykhailo Mudryk, who will soon wear the Chelsea shirt, is considered a good investment in the future

It was “very wild, you just have to say that. Money doesn’t matter there,” said Borussia Dortmund’s sports director Sebastian Kehl in a Sky interview on Chelsea’s recent transfer activities. 121 million euros for world champion Enzo Fernandez from Argentina, 70 million for Mykhaylo Mudryk from Ukraine – shortly before the end of the winter transfer window, the Londoners, who are currently only 10th in the Premier League, really let it rip again. In total, they spent around 330 million euros in winter – more than the top leagues in Spain, Italy, Germany, and France combined.

Since the start of the season on July 1, 2022, Chelsea has invested over €611m in new players. This contrasts with transfer proceeds of only around 68 million in this period.

Although Chelsea FC’s annual turnover is around a fifth lower than that of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, the Blues exceed Munich’s expenses many times over. The new financial sustainability rules of UEFA, which have replaced the financial fair play requirements, should actually prevent such financial excesses.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Netherlands v Argentina
Most expensive transfer of the winter: Enzo Fernandez (r.) Costs Chelsea 121 million euros

Long contract periods

External donors may in the future compensate for a difference of up to 60 million over a period of three years, no more. Everything else has to be generated through football-related income. According to Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chairman of the European Football Clubs’ Interest Group ECA, the new rules should be “simple, fair, transparent and enforceable”. Al-Khelaifi is president of the top French club Paris St. Germain.

What is striking about the newcomers to Chelsea FC is that particularly talented, valuable players are given eight-year contracts. FIFA prescribes a maximum limit of five years. The DFL also adheres to this, but not in some other countries, because the FIFA regulation contains an exception: “Contracts with other terms are only permissible if they are compatible with national legislation.”

Rules with loopholes

There is no law against long terms in the UK, so Chelsea is acting in accordance with the law. Incidentally, that doesn’t exist in Germany either. However, clubs largely adhere to the DFL recommendation, which says: “The maximum term of a contract should not exceed five years.” Bundesliga club Bayer 04 Leverkusen, however, recently went their own way when he tied Noah Mbamba to the club for five and a half years.

Contracts with a long term of up to eight years mean the possibility of writing off the transfer fee for the professionals over a longer period, i.e. spreading it out. This can have both tax implications and help to comply with UEFA’s sustainability rules. In addition, the club has planning security and can also achieve higher transfer revenues if the development is positive than if the contract is about to expire.

But why didn’t the DFL ask UEFA and FIFA to act long ago? Sports lawyer Martin Stopper advises the DFL on legal issues, among others. “The ECA is much stronger and carries much more weight than an association,” Stopper told DW. The DFL has no idea of ​​​​demanding compliance with the regulations. The DFL is the representative of the clubs, and there are many different opinions.”

FIFA World Cup 2022 |  Portugal vs Ghana |  2. TOR Portugal, Felix
Recently also in Chelsea, initially only on loan: Portugal’s Joao Felix

Can UEFA stop the hustle and bustle?

Nevertheless, according to information from the London newspaper “The Times”, UEFA is now planning to close this loophole for the coming summer. The unidentified source is quoted as saying: “If other clubs start doing the same thing with eight-year contracts there will be chaos so we have to protect them. That just pushes a problem into the future. Either one club stays sit on a player with a high salary that he can’t sell, or if he sells him after three or four years, doesn’t make a big profit [accounting] because a lot of the transfer fee hasn’t been recouped.”

At Chelsea, however, the next big deal is already pending. Portuguese superstar Joao Felix has just moved to London on loan. For a fee of eleven million with an alleged subsequent purchase option. Felix’s market value is currently estimated at 50 million euros. Chelsea will certainly dig deeper into their pockets.

With such dizzying dimensions, Dortmund’s sports director Kehl can only concentrate on his own work: “We simply have to earn our money here in a different way,” Kehl told Sky. BVB must be “even faster when it comes to commitments, we have to be there earlier. That makes it challenging, but we can still do it.”

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