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Balancing Success At Stamford Bridge

Wed 24th Jul 2013 | Money & Finance

UEFA's new Financial Fair Play regulations are an attempt to instigate financial stability and longevity in an economic downturn, causing inflation that has driven wages and transfer fees to dizzying and unsustainable heights.

Any team that is unable to meet the requirements that necessitate the club to meet specific profit margins could incur punishments that include fines, the suspension of player transfers and ultimately a ban from European club tournaments.

The official UEFA objectives are as follows:

• to introduce more discipline and rationality in club football finances;

• to decrease pressure on salaries and transfer fees and limit inflationary effect;

• to encourage clubs to compete with(in) their revenues;

• to encourage long-term investments in the youth sector and infrastructure;

• to protect the long-term viability of European club football;

• to ensure clubs settle their liabilities on a timely basis.

With the full regulations beginning this coming season, Premier League clubs Chelsea and Manchester City are more than likely going to be held responsible for such drastic changes due to their lavish business model's. Clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City have come under scrutiny for the way their mega-rich, billionaire owners have spent their money in the transfer windows, paying well over the premium for players, consequently driving the market prices higher for everyone else.

From a fans' perspective the money brought in by Roman Abramovich can be considered nothing other than amazing. He has changed the fate of the London club by buying some of the World's best players, coaching staff and managers, transforming an often underachieving football club into a global brand. The demand for Chelsea football tickets has never been so high.

While there have been some frustrations with the controversial Russian billionaire, such as his ruthlessness with managers, or media shyness, as a fan you simply cannot argue with results.

Abramovich became the majority share holder in 2003 and in 10 years his investment in the club has been rewarded with 11 major trophies. In football, success is measured by the contents of your trophy cabinet, not your profit margins. These parameters for success are now subject to change, as FFP regulations look to even the playing field and marginalise the impact of billionaire ownership.

The rules are designed to make it fairer for all clubs in the same league, which should lead to a focus on home grown talent as being able to purchase all of the World's best talent and in form players will simply not be an option.

Chelsea have had their fair share of questionable expenditures in the Abramovich era, buying players that have disappointed given the magnitude of their transfer sum. Players like Scott Parker, Juan Sebastian Veron, Adrian Mutu all failed to represent their grand price tags (£40 million collectively). The huge bank-rolling moves for Andrey Shevschenko (£30 million), and most recently Fernando Torres (£50 million) do not symbolise good value for money, or particularly good business and though every Chelsea fan wants players like Torres to be successful, one can't help but feel that the Russian oligarch has learned the hard way.

Abramovich however is forward thinking business man. He was a business man before he bought Chelsea FC and he made his money because he is successful and attentive. More of a thinker than a talker, it's lucky that Abramovich has been wise with his more recent purchases, forward thinking that Jose Mourinho himself has praised.

In recent seasons he has spent a lot of money acquiring some of the best young talent available. Oscar, Hazard, Lukaku, Mata, Van Ginkel, Andre Schurrle, Thomas Kalas and Nathan Ake are a few names that are destined to be some of the biggest in the game in the next few years. Luckily, they are all Blue.

The progress does not stop at the current Chelsea squad. There are players out on loan such as Thibault Cortois, Oriol Romeu, Patrick Van Aarnholt and Gael Kakuta. The future's bright, right?

This is important because once the Financial Fair Play rules kick in, spending £50-100 million in one transfer window will not be viable. Abramovich is hoping is that he will not have to spend anywhere near as much as he has done in recent years because he has already invested in a team that should not require much significant improvement, avoiding any sanctions from UEFA.

After 10 years of heavy investment, £713 million on transfer fees, to be exact, Mourinho and Abramovich, and chief executive Ron Gourlay, must change strategy and develop more youth players. The enthusiasm of the support has been understandably constant throughout. Expectant fans enjoying tickets one click away, the stands thick with fans awaiting the next highpoint.

John Terry rose through the academy ranks to the become a first team regular, but the only other first team player, to come through the academy after Terry in the last decade is Ryan Bertrand. This is a cause for concern but the youth in the current squad should buy them enough time to improve their academy and build it to a standard to rival Barcelona and Manchester United.

It would seem that Abramovic has learnt his lesson, and is genuinely attempting to ensure that Chelsea FC maintain their position as a dominant force in European football. With the reappointment of Mourinho, and his claims that he is in it for the long haul, it seems Chelsea are destined to grow and develop with the game as UEFA make changes with long term implications.

There can be no illusions that while there are risks to this fiscal strategy, but it is a positive move towards making football a more responsible and economically stable industry. It may also help to take away some of the financial factors that have dominated headlines in current years and help to focus more money on improving younger generations, something English football drastically needs.


Written by: Jacob Pettit

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