How are Chelsea getting away with this?! Todd Boehly and the Blues continue to avoid FFP sanctions despite almost £1bn of transfer spending

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Following Moises Caicedo's arrival, the signings of Romeo Lavia and Michael Olise are set to push the club's spending to unprecedented levels

Chelsea's recent transfer business has been a study in how to lose friends and alienate people. Having snatched Brighton dynamo Moises Caicedo from under Liverpool's nose, they are now on the verge of repeating the trick by prising Romeo Lavia from the Reds' grasp.

It's not just the nature of their negotiating tactics that have caused a stir, though. The west London club have already shelled out a British-record £115 million ($146m) to land Caicedo, and that figure combined with the £55m ($70m) they are primed to pay Southampton for Lavia will take the new ownership's spending beyond £900m ($1.14bn) in just over a year. Add in their potential capture of Michael Olise from Crystal Palace, and soon the £1bn ($1.27bn) mark won't be far away.

It's not just Liverpool who will feel burned, however, with rumours of growing disquiet among Chelsea's domestic rivals at their level of spending, with many asking the same question: how on earth are they staying within Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations?!

Below, GOAL does it's utmost to shed light on the situation...

  1. Contract loophole

    Contract loophole

    One well-documented workaround the Blues have been employing is handing out unusually long-term contracts to their new signings. Wesley Fofana joined on a seven-year deal last summer, while fellow big-money arrivals Benoit Badiashile, Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke all signed seven-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half-year contracts in January.

    From an accounting and FFP perspective, this means Chelsea are able to spread the cost of each initial transfer fee by dividing it across the length of each contract - the process known as amortisation.

    However, this loophole is closing, with UEFA imposing a five-year limit on contracts for amortised transfers from this summer, and the Premier League is likely to follow suit.

  2. Aided by last season's failure

    Aided by last season's failure

    The 2022-23 campaign was an unmitigated disaster for Chelsea on and off the pitch, as they went through three different managers and slipped to a 12th-placed finish in the Premier League, with their bloated squad becoming a crippling hindrance. That resulted in a failure to qualify for European football altogether - an unfathomable failure for a club of the stature and with the finances of the Blues.

    However, there was the sliver of a silver lining; failure to qualify for any form of UEFA competition means Chelsea can operate outside the European football governing body's regulations, for the time being at least. That buys them time, although of course they will hope to return to the Champions League next season.

  3. Clear-out is helping

    Clear-out is helping

    Despite their eye-watering outlay on incoming transfers, one of they key objectives of Chelsea's new ownership has been to significantly chop back the club's overgrown squad and raise money through player sales. That has resulted in this summer's unprecedented clear-out, with no fewer than 13 players moved on permanently so far, most notably Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy.

    The club has raised around £200m ($254m) from those deals, among others, and the main benefit is that unlike their amortised incoming transfers, the individual outgoing fees are registered in the year's accounts in full and immediately.

    Although that figure may seem like it comes nowhere close to offsetting the £900m Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali have spent in the past year or so, the ~£100m ($127m) raised through the sales of Havertz, Mount and Kovacic could theoretically fund £500m ($636m) in transfer fees amortised over five-year contracts, per The Athletic.

  4. Shrewd new wage structure
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    Shrewd new wage structure

    Indeed, getting rid of those expendable big-name players on big contracts has also enabled Chelsea to impose a new, more cost-effective wage structure. The pursuit of players aged 25 or under in recent times has been motivated in part by their general willingness to accept a lower base salary as they are yet to reach their peak.

    The Blues are trying to protect themselves in the long-term, too; if one or more of these signings doesn't pay off, they do not want to become burdened with them as they are with Romelu Lukaku, who is proving very difficult to shift - partly a consequence of his wage demands.

    With their labour costs coming down, more money has been freed up for spending.

  5. Living on borrowed time?
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    Living on borrowed time?

    It's feasible that Chelsea are trying to get their business done as closely in line with FFP rules as possible right now, and then plan to deal with the consequences when they come. Beyond a new goalkeeper and that long-awaited striker, they shouldn't need to spend much on new players in the next two transfer windows at least, given the raft of talented young players they have brought in.

    The Blues are already on UEFA's watchlist and are in danger of failing to stay within the Premier League's three-year limit on losses of £105m ($133.6m) or more, with club owners required to make cash injections of £90m ($114m) to cover that deficit. Conveniently, UEFA's rules have loosened as of this season, with clubs now permitted to lose €90m (£77m/$98m) over a three-year period - thrice the old limit.

    But where do Chelsea stand at present? In 2021-22 they posted an alarming £156m ($198m) loss amid the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by £121m ($154m) last year.

    Therefore, while it won't be known whether the west London club will post a loss for the current transfer period until 2024, they quite literally need to get their accounts in order to fall in line with FFP going forward.