English Premier League side Chelsea made heads turn with its aggressive approach in the winter transfer window that concluded on Tuesday.
The reason being January transfer windows are usually considered light and only a handful of big-ticket players move away from their clubs during this period in the past.
Chelsea, under its new owner and chairman Todd Boehly, has been restructuring the club in a process that started last year right after former owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned because of his alleged links with Russia president Vladimir Putin.
Starting last summer, Chelsea has signed 15 players, out of which eight players came into the squad this month, and has spent close to £500 million overall, a figure that is more than every other club spending in the top five leagues across Europe.
Its latest recruit Enzo Fernandez was signed at the eleventh hour on the deadline day, making him the most expensive transfer in Premier League history.
Earlier in the window, Mikhailo Mudryk was acquired from Shakhtar Donetsk on an eight-and-a-half-year deal for a staggering £87 million.
Sportstar analyses how Chelsea managed to sign an unreal amount of players without triggering the UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations.
What is the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulation?
The purpose of the FFP is simple - to prevent European clubs from spending more than their revenue. This is to maintain an equal ground for teams across leagues irrespective of the wealth of their owners. FFP came into existence in 2009.
Clubs are permitted to spend up to £4.04 million more than what they earn per assessment period (three years).
However, it can exceed that level to a limit (£26 million approx.) if the losses incurred during this period are covered by the club’s owner.
For instance, Barcelona was in a huge debt close to £1 billion last summer but was able to bring in new players by activating certain ‘economic levers’.
Economic levers basically allow clubs to sell assets to generate revenue. In June last year, Barcelona sold 10 per cent of its La Liga television rights and pulled in massive income.
How did Chelsea bypass the FFP rules?
Chelsea has handed new players long contracts — as much as 8.5 years for Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile has a 7.5-year deal and Wesley Fofana is on a seven-year contract — to allow the club to spread the cost of the signings over the length of the deal and comply with financial fair-play regulations.
According to a report in The Times, following complaints from various clubs across Europe, UEFA is planning to make amends to its FFP regulations to stop clubs from further exploiting the above-mentioned loophole.
It is speculated that the officials at European football’s governing body are planning to set a five-year maximum for the length of time over which a player’s transfer fee can be spread. This new policy could be implemented as soon as the upcoming summer transfer window.
But this decision will not affect players that have already signed for Chelsea in the winter as well as the summer transfer windows.
INs and OUTs of Chelsea this January:
Graham Potter’s side saw an array of additions this January - Mikhailo Mudryk, Malo Gusto, Noni Madueke, Benoit Badiashile, Joao Felix (loan), Andrey Santos and David Datro Fofana
Meanwhile, there were only two exits from the club, Jorginho moved to Arsenal for £12 million and Cesar Casadei was sent out on loan to Reading until the end of the season.
Hakim Ziyech, who was already in Paris on deadline day to strike a loan deal with PSG, returned back disappointed as Chelsea reportedly failed to submit the necessary documents in time.
Chelsea and league leaders across Europe - A comparison