How hard will Chelsea's transfer ban hit them?
By Joe Harker
Chelsea have been hit with a transfer ban after an investigation into the club signing foreign under 18 players found 29 breaches of conduct. The investigation examined 92 cases of young players featuring in the club's youth teams without being registered, many of them playing during trial periods.
The most high profile case is that of Bertrand Traore, the Burkina Faso forward who joined the club aged 15 but could not legally sign for them and play due to FIFA regulations in under 18 players. ESPN reports that the club instead sent Traore to a private boarding school and made trials appearances.
A two window transfer ban would hit Chelsea hard and severely disrupt their ability to catch up to the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. They are also facing losing some of their best and most promising players with no chance to replace them.
Andy Dunn of the Daily Mirror has suggested a transfer ban might actually be good news for Chelsea, or at the very least their young players who aren't getting chances.
The club's youth academy teams regularly win trophies but players don't filter up to the senior squad and become a permanent presence, the last homegrown player to "make it" was John Terry. Meanwhile current youth team graduates Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Husdon-Odoi are struggling for game time, with the latter seemingly angling for a move away.
While a transfer ban wouldn't be good for Chelsea in the short term it might force them to give more chances to their promising young players and they could discover some of the talent they wanted to buy was at the club all along.
If nothing else a ban will force Chelsea to use what they've got instead of dipping into the transfer market. It might even save them from wasting money.
Take a moment to consider how successful the club's signings in recent years have been. Over the past five years the club has spent well over half a billion pounds on signing players, how many have been good investments? How many have been foolish acquisitions? Every club makes mistakes in the transfer market but Chelsea in recent years have increasingly relied on a few successful deals among other wasteful ones.
The Counter Claim:
Chelsea fan Travis Tyler doesn't want to hear about the silver linings or unintended benefits to a transfer ban, it's still going to harm the club and have a negative effect on them.
The club is facing the prospect of losing promising young forward Hudson-Odoi in the summer but they are also having to consider the loss of Eden Hazard, their best player. That is no good situation for a club facing a transfer ban to be in, regardless of the potential talent in the youth teams. The squad needs rebuilding as some areas are too old, others too shallow. Some transfer business will have to be done.
There is also the matter of who is going to be in charge. Current manager Maurizio Sarri is a favourite to be sacked and if he goes his replacement will want to make some changes. Even if Sarri stays he will need several signings to adapt the squad so it is more capable of doing what he wants.
The ban covers the next two transfer windows, meaning Chelsea cannot sign players in the summer or next January. A fine of £460,000 has been issued to the club while the FA has been hit with a £390,000 penalty.
The club has said they plan to appeal the verdict and insisted they acted in accordance with FIFA regulations. The FA has also said they will appeal against the decision.
Because the appeals process can take months the ban could be pushed back until a later date, meaning it would prevent Chelsea from signing players next January and in Summer 2020. The club will most likely be able to conduct transfer business in the summer but if the ban was upheld despite an appeal their next opportunity to buy players would be January 2021.
Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona have previously been hit with similar bans. While the former was able to get the ban reduced to one window on appeal the latter two were not, though the time taken for the appeals process meant the ban was delayed and they could sign players to prepare for the ban.
Under 18s are not allowed to transfer to clubs in foreign countries unless they meet specific criteria. They can transfer to a foreign club if their parents move to that country for non footballing reasons. If they live within 100km of the club they are also allowed to transfer.
The final option available is if both clubs are in the EU or the European Economic Area and the player is at least 16, even then a reasonable standard of education, training and living conditions have to be assured before a transfer is allowed.