SPECIAL REPORT: How CAN Chelsea spend £445m? Football finance expert reveals how £688m profit on sales – double ANY Big Six rival – and Todd Boehly’s US-style contracts let them splash out and STILL keep within FFP
- Chelsea completed the £88m signing of Mykhailo Mudryk over the weekend
- It took club’s spending to record levels this season after £445m splurge
- Questions have been raised as to how this complies with Financial Fair Play rules
- Mudryk has signed a 8.5 year contract allowing his fee to be spread thinly
- Chelsea have also made a £688m profit on player sales over the past decade
- These and other factors explain how Chelsea can spend and comply with FFP
As the signing of Mykhailo Mudryk took Chelsea’s transfer spending to a record level in Premier League history, at £445million surpassing the £328m spent by Manchester City in 2017-18, many people have wondered how this can be achieved in the era of financial fair play (FFP).
Under Premier League FFP rules clubs are allowed to lose £105 million over a rolling three-year period, but there are adjustments for virtue spending areas such as infrastructure spend, women’s teams, academies and community projects.
In addition, further allowances have been granted following Covid and the impact it had on clubs playing matches behind closed doors and the increased costs of Covid compliance.
Chelsea completed the £88million signing of Ukrainian Mykhaylo Mudryk at the weekend
The Premier League side have splashed out around £400m under Todd Boehly’s new regime
UEFA’s rules are slightly different, with new Financial and Sustainability Rules introduced in the summer of 2022 which allow clubs to lose up to €60 million over three years, but the virtue spending allowances are ignored.
In addition UEFA have introduced a soft wage cap that limits spending on player/coach wages, plus agent fees and net transfer expense to an initial 90 per cent of revenue in 2023-24, then 80 per cent and 70 per cent in the two subsequent seasons.
Chelsea posted operating losses of £387 million in the three years of its most recent published accounts to 30 June 2021.
However, the club was able to claim a substantial amount in respect of Covid (Everton, for example, who normally generate around £60m a year less than Chelsea in ticket sales, have claimed £190 million of Covid related costs).
Chelsea buys under Boehly
Raheem Sterling – £45m plus £10m potential add-ons (five year contract)
Kalidou Koulibaly – £33.8m (four year contract)
Marc Cucurella – £55m plus £7m potential add-ons (six year contract)
Wesley Fofana – £70m plus £10m potential add-ons (seven year contract)
Carney Chukwuemeka – £20m (six year contract)
Gabriel Slonina – £12m
Cesare Casadei – £12.6m plus £4.2m potential add-ons (six year contract)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. – £10.6m (two year contract)
Denis Zakaria – loan, £2.6m fee plus £30m option to buy
Mykhailo Mudryk – £88m (8.5 year contract)
Benoit Badashile – £33.7m (7.5 year contract)
Joao Felix – loan, £9m fee
Andrey Santos – £11m
David Datro Fofana – £10m (7.5 year contract)
Chelsea have been able to add to their squad while also keeping within FFP rules
Chelsea’s former owner Roman Abramovich lent the club £1.5billion over 19 years at the helm
They are, therefore, probably in a relatively strong opening FFP position because player sale profits are deducted from these losses.
Chelsea have not however published their 2021-22 accounts, where the club was unable to sell tickets for a period of time, or generate money from merchandise and other products and services, following the government sanctions and freezing of the assets of former owner Roman Abramovich.
It is uncertain how both the Premier League and UEFA will treat this issue for FFP purposes.
Abramovich lent the club over £1.5 billion since his acquisition of the club in 2003 which funded operating losses that averaged £900,000 a week during his period of ownership.
A chart showing how Chelsea’s borrowing increased during the Roman Abramovich era
Abramovich’s loans to Chelsea came interest free, in contrast to the Glazers at Man United
Price of Football
You can read more about the financial side of football on Kieran’s Price of Football website
Abramovich’s loans came with the benefit of being interest free. This contrasts with the approach taken by Manchester United’s owners, who borrowed from the markets and have ran up finance costs, dividends and management fees of over £1 billion, causing resentment from fans who would rather see the money spent on a now dilapidated Old Trafford and the playing squad.
Chelsea benefit significantly from the way the accountants deal with player transactions.
If you buy a player the cost is spread, via a process called amortisation, over the contract life.
In the case of Mudryk, his £88 million fee will therefore by divided by the 8½ year contract and gives an annual cost for FFP purposes of just over £10 million a year, and for the season ending 2022-23 it will be half that as he has been signed in January.
Similarly, the club has signed Fofana on a 7 year deal, Badiashile 6½, Cucurella 6 and Sterling 5. This benefits Chelsea in terms of reducing the annual amortisation cost substantially.
An estimated £420 million spent on players in 2022-23 to date on an average of a six year contracts works out as a £70 million annual cost in the accounts, plus wages of course.
If the players had signed on four year contracts then the annual cost would have been £105 million a year (£420m/4 years) and there would have been an increased chance of breaching FFP.
A graph showing Chelsea’s proceeds from the sale of players each year over the past decade
In respect of player sales, under FFP the whole profit is taken immediately into consideration in the calculations.
Chelsea have perhaps flown under the radar here for many years.
Over the course of the last decade Chelsea have made player sale profits of £688 million, almost twice the sum of their nearest rivals in the Big Six, and over half a billion pounds more than Manchester United.
This figure is the accounting profit on player sales, which is the sales proceeds less the book value of players.
How Chelsea’s profits from player sales over the past decade dwarf their ‘Big Six’ rivals – this is the sales proceeds minus the book value of players
Chelsea’s big money sales over the past decade
Player sales £10m and above
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) £25m
Emerson (West Ham) £15m
Tammy Abraham (Roma) £36m
Kurt Zouma (West Ham) £31.5m
Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan) £26.8m
Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace) £18m
Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid) £58m
Mario Pasalic (Atalanta) £13.5m
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid) £89m plus add-ons
Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid) £31.5m
Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid) £50m
Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) £40m
Nathan Ake (Bournemouth) £20m
Juan Cuadrado (Juventus) £17.3m
Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth) £10m
Oscar (Shanghai SIPG) £60m
Mohamed Salah (Roma) £14.5m
Ramires (Jiangsu Suning) £25m
Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid) £11.1m
Petr Cech (Arsenal) £10m
David Luiz (Paris Saint-Germain) £50m
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) £28m
Andre Schurrle (Wolfsburg) £22m
Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) £10m
Juan Mata (Manchester United) £37.1m
Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg) £16.5m
The sale of the likes of Hazard, Oscar, David Luiz, perhaps at the top of their market prices plus the sales of academy developed players such as Abraham and Tomori have been very lucrative for Chelsea.
Chelsea made €120 million in 2021 from winning the Champions League by beating Manchester City.
When this match took place they were the two clubs who had incurred the biggest losses in Premier League history, although this was not an issue for either the club owners or their fans.
Chelsea made an initial £89m, plus potential for add-ons, when they sold Hazard to Madrid
Tammy Abraham is a good example of a Chelsea academy player sold for a profit (£34m)
In addition to this Chelsea have subsequently won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup which adds to their revenues. A run to the quarter-final of the Champions League in 2021-22, in front of fans who were once again able to buy matchday tickets, will also have generated substantial sums.
The downside of Chelsea’s approach to player recruitment is that if the players do not prove to be successful then the club is stuck with them on very expensive contracts for a long period of time.
This can create bottlenecks for young players coming through the ranks and also prevent future signings. This may be because recruited players choose to sit on their contracts, meaning Chelsea are then committed to paying them substantial sums each year for a long period.
If the new owners at Chelsea, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, have recruited players who under-perform, and the jury is out at present given the club’s present 10th place position in the Premier League, then there will be less wiggle room going forwards into the 2023-24 season.
Chelsea lifted the Champions League in 2021 – but they may be absent from it next season
A failure to make the Champions League – or Europe altogether – would put pressure on manager Graham Potter and the club’s finances
For every £1 generated from qualifying for the Champions League, clubs earn 23 pence in the Europa League and 11 pence in the Europa Conference.
Failure to qualify for any of these competitions would mean Chelsea would be hamstrung in the summer 2023 transfer window.
This is because both the UEFA and Premier League cost control rules would be impacted by the lower revenues the club would generate. Players Chelsea might be trying to recruit over the summer may be cautious about joining as many want to play in the Champions League.
Chelsea would be able to take some solace from the fact that the last time they won the Premier League was 2016-17, when they did not have the distraction of European adventures and therefore could concentrate on the main domestic competition.
Whether that will be easy with a resurgent Manchester United, Arsenal worthy present leaders of the Premier League and Manchester City likely to invest heavily following Pep Guardiola extending his contract is uncertain.
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