Chelsea have been banned from signing players until the summer of 2020 and they could be in trouble if they cannot mount a successful appeal.
<p>Chelsea have been slapped with a transfer ban until the summer of 2020 as punishment for breaching FIFA regulations when signing academy players. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have all been hit with similar bans for breaching rules that prevented them from international transfers of under-18 players. FIFA fined the Blues £460,000 and barred them from signing players in the next two transfer windows, which would mean no new stars until the 2020/21 season. Players can be sold, but the likes of Eden Hazard and Callum Hudson-Odoi will now find it difficult to convince the club to sell them.</p><h2>What can Chelsea do?</h2><p>Chelsea have immediately disputed the sanctions and protested their innocence, while pledging to appeal. Perhaps the best strategy for the club would be to hold up the appeal process for as long as possible, allowing them to sign players in the summer. First up they launch a case with FIFA’s appeal committee, and if that is unsuccessful they can explore other avenues. One is the Court of Arbitration for Sport, while the FA also plans to appeal against the punishment.</p><h2>What happened to Barcelona and co?</h2><p>When hit with a similar ban, Barcelona managed to delay it and went on a massive splurge in the transfer market before it kicked in. They went out in the summer of 2014 and bought Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu, Thomas Vermaelen, Claudio Bravo, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Douglas, bolstering several key positions. They were then prevented from buying players the following season, but it did not matter so much as they did two years’ worth of business beforehand. They won La Liga in both seasons and clinched the Champions League in 2015. Real Madrid’s ban was reduced to just one winter transfer window on appeal, so it had minimal impact. Atletico had to serve a two-window suspension, but it persuaded star forward Antoine Griezmann not to leave the club, so it worked out reasonably well for them.</p><h2>Will Roman Abramovich go on a splurge?</h2><p>The Russian owner’s commitment to the club has been called into question of late, after he had visa issues in the UK and pulled out of plans to build a new stadium. But it is highly likely that he would whip out the chequebook if Chelsea earned a reprieve and they were able to sign players in the summer. They have spent big on the likes of Jorginho and Kepa Arrizabalaga of late and they would make ambitious moves if given the opportunity. However, selling clubs would sense their desperation and charge them a premium.</p><h2>What if the ban is upheld for the next two windows?</h2><p>Chelsea currently have Gonzalo Higuain and Mateo Kovacic on loan, but they would be unable to make those deals permanent. They would then have to try their utmost to persuade current stars to stay. Hazard would probably react in a similar fashion to Griezmann and stick with the club, but Hudson-Odoi – who handed in a transfer request in a bid to push through a January move to Bayern Munich – could be more difficult. Yet Chelsea could simply refuse to sell anyone and just deal with the fallout. They could also bring a number of players they have sent out on loan, including Tammy Abraham and Tiemoue Bakayoko, back into the fold for the new season, while giving young English talent like Ruben Loftus-Cheek a chance.</p><h2>How will it affect their chances of success?</h2><p>Chelsea have struggled badly under Maurizio Sarri in recent months, culminating in a 6-0 defeat against Man City in their last league game. They have a few big players, including Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Willian, but this team needs significant investment. If they cannot sign players until 2020, perhaps a simple change of manager would galvanise them. Returning Kante to the base of the midfield could transform their fortunes, while they still have most of the players that won the title a couple of years ago. However, it is imperative to keep freshening things up to drive success, and Chelsea would be huge underdogs to win the Premiership title, cup competitions and anything in Europe.</p><p>One market that could be affected is this year’s Europa League. Chelsea are the 4/1 (5.0) favourites with <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=153&a=8ec6399a-9df1-4c52-b272-39e6428836a6" target="_blank">Betfair</a>, <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=df66db4b-b019-4343-9fc7-6c4f20e2a356" target="_blank">Paddy Power</a>, <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=3e56a0bf-7bdf-4fe1-b9a6-d22c7cc3dd2c" target="_blank">Betway</a>, <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=95095aa3-ae41-43ba-886d-99a97893c4a3" target="_blank">Boyle Sports</a> and <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=8e57de00-8c0e-4848-b6da-ea2a0f565fb1" target="_blank">888 Sport</a> to win it this season, ahead of Napoli and Arsenal. They could now make an almighty push to lift that trophy, as the winner qualifies automatically for the Champions League in 2019/20. They are sixth in the Premiership table and face a tough battle with Man Utd and Arsenal to clinch a Champions League place through the traditional route, so the Europa League offers an interesting backdoor option.</p><p>On their day, they can beat anyone, and Abramovich might decide to axe Sarri now and bring in a new coach to galvanise Kante and drive the team to glory. The Italian is now priced at just 3/10 (1.33) with Betfair and Paddy Power to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post and it is hard to see him clinging on for much longer.</p>