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How Chelsea is finessing the Financial Fair Play rules



Chelsea spent the most money by far since the end of the summer. It seems like almost every big name player is heading to Stamford Bridge nowadays and it’s hard to understand how it is possible. How are they doing this without actually breaching the Financial Fair Play rules?

The answer consists of three things: by signing players on long-term contracts, by selling players for great prices and loaning out players.


American billionaire Todd Boehly along with a string of other investors bought Chelsea for about $5.25 billion. They had the vision to take the club to the next level and become as big and successful as Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. They wanted to make big changes to the roster so they started paying lots of money for marquee players. But Chelsea is currently sitting in the middle of the Premier League table and it’s the team that is probably the most disappointing this season.


How is Chelsea able to sign all these players for this much money without violating the Financial Fair Play rules? They are signing these players on very long contracts (5-7 years) and that allows them to balance their annual fees more easily.

As of February 1st, 2023, Chelsea FC had paid north of $560 million for players since the beginning of July. Players like Sterling, Mudryk, Fofana or even Joao Felix had joined the team recently. They just managed to seal the signing of Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for a Premier League record amount of money ($139 million). Graham Potter is now in charge of the team as they are looking to redeem themselves in the second half of the season to at least try and salvage something out of it.


The Premier League rules clearly state that a football club can lose a maximum of $129,5 million dollars over the course of 3 years.

FFP is based on amortized costs and expenses incurred over the past 3 years, so it’s not really focused on one specific year. This is what gives Chelsea some wiggle room.

Mudryk arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk for almost $100 million if you include the bonuses in his contract. Chelsea is actually only paying around $14 million annually for his transfer fee, given Mudryk’s long contract with the team. Yes, the Blues spent a lot of money on transfers, but the reality is that they are not paying for that in one sum, but through the length of the contract. Every year the same amount of money.

However, Chelsea is the team that made the most money by selling players this past season. For instance, when they sell two or three players for about $100 million, that money immediately shows up in their books, meaning that it allows them to sign new players on long contracts.

Loaning out players has been crucial for Chelsea to balance their books. For the most part they make the other team cover most of the wages for the respective player(s), thus allowing themselves more flexibility financially. Joao Felix might be the only player who Chelsea had to pay for (€11M to loan him and they are covering his salary too).


What Chelsea has been doing on the market this season has been quite remarkable. Many football fans had been raising their eyebrows given all the moves that the Blues had done, but the reality is that Chelsea actually did everything according to the rules. They managed to find a loophole and exploited that perfectly and that’s what allowed them to wreak havoc on the transfer market. Are Chelsea changing the way transfers will be handled in the future? Only time will tell. The most likely outcome however is a change in the rules by the English FA.

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