12/12/2023 28comments  |  Jump to last

The current 20 member clubs of the Premier League have agreed to limit player contracts to five years, thereby closing a loophole used chiefly by Chelsea in recent years to enable them to buy more players than would otherwise be possible.

The London club spent £430m this past summer alone and have splashed out close to £1bn since Todd Boely and his group took over the club by signing players to seven- and eight-year contracts to circumvent Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR).

Such deals allowed Chelsea to spread payments over the lifetime of long contracts, thereby reducing the net outlay on players in a given accounting period.

Now, however, the League's clubs have voted to close this amortisation loophole but Chelsea will face no consequences for bending the rules as the tactic was not illegal up to this point and the ruling won't be backdated.

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The decision brings the Premier League in line with UEFA who voted in the same rule over the summer.


Reader Comments (28)

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Trevor Powell
1 Posted 12/12/2023 at 16:56:18
It wouldn't matter anyway if it could be backdated, Chelsea are one of the 'Untouchables' when it comes to irregular and dubious financial transactions.

That is why Everton get hammered and Chelsea and their likes get away scot-free!

Simon Harrison
2 Posted 12/12/2023 at 17:05:12
Thanks for this, Lyndon.

So, one of the 'scabby six' work out a way to help circumvent the then current PSR rules. It subsequently all leaks out into the public domain. Then the other Premier League clubs, who mostly don't have the resources to do what Chelsea have done, go on to vote to lock the stable door after the horses have bolted?

Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face... Idiotic short-termist thinking!

Surely, just vote to limit the contract length to 8 years but with a gradual reduction to 5 as the current contracts wind down, so that other clubs could do the same? In essence, 8 years for this season then go to 7 then 6 as the years roll on till you get to 5 in the 2026-27 season...

Sorry, missing Willow and a bit grumpy to boot.

Brendan McLaughlin
3 Posted 12/12/2023 at 20:19:53
I think the move was designed more to simply bring Premier League rules into alignment with those of Uefa rather than closing any perceived loophole.

There's a massive downside to following the Chelsea approach.. .just imagine if we had signed a lot of the duds we recruited in recent years on 8-year contracts.

Doesn't bear thinking about.

Tim Greeley
4 Posted 13/12/2023 at 02:26:06
I'm half an idiot so please allow for that, but I'm having trouble understanding how we are supposed to have fucked ourselves up so badly here when options like these longer-term deals were out there. Moreso, I just don't actually believe the change voted on here should alleviate Chelsea's flouting of the rules for so long and to such an egregious degree.

So did we just pay our players' salaries upfront?! Like, we obviously signed players to deals extended over a number of years, like every other club on fucking Earth, and we never came anywhere near spending even half this amount of money… so how would it not even out, comparatively speaking??

They spent over a billion fucking quid in a shamefully short period of time in which they couldn't have “earned” 1/100th of that amount back in profit in the same timeframe… and they've been doing essentially the same thing for 15+ years to varying degrees. It all just stinks.

Brian Harrison
5 Posted 13/12/2023 at 10:16:16
I don't think Chelsea did break any rules as they existed at the time of their transfers. In fact, I take my hat off to whoever it was that spotted the opportunity to buy expensive players and extend the normal Uefa 5-year deal.

The question we should be asking the Premier League is why Chelsea, having admitted that under the ownership of Abramovich, he bought players without it going through their books? Why haven't they set a date for them to appear before a tribunal to decide what punishment they should face?

They have set a date for late next year for Man City to appear before the commission and they haven't admitted any liability yet Chelsea have and no date has been set for them. Little wonder why everybody bar the select few think the Premier League is corrupt.

Christine Foster
6 Posted 13/12/2023 at 11:18:14
Brian, I think there is a fundamental problem the Premier league have regarding Chelsea and why, in the end, they won't get penalized, fined or points deducted.

The club was essentially liquidated and sold to the highest bidder, the board, the owner lost their money as a result, the club became literally a new business.

What should have happened of course was that they should have been put into administration when sold and relegated.

Who are the Premier League going to penalise? No one in the club has responsibility for Abramovic or the running of the club at the time. So does the institution that is now Chelsea Mk 2 pay for the sins of Chelsea Mk 1?

Of course the Premier League is corrupt in its decision-making, they failed to hold the club to account in any meaningful way, just as they have failed to do so now. An accountancy sleight of hand that allowed the club a massive sporting advantage, truly massive, yet we are told it's all okay.

Yet a real accountancy adjustment gets a 10-point deduction and ongoing threats.

Christine Foster
7 Posted 13/12/2023 at 11:34:52
The real problem the Premier League have is Man City. Allegedly what they did was effectively cheating done so with the express intention of cheating, lying and laundering funds. All done with intent. The board knew then and now what they were doing.

They should be kicked out of football entirely. It's that bad.
Of course it will never happen, not because of the quality of lawyers at their disposal, but because it would destroy the Premier League brand. A rule change, retrospective, a change of the board, a token fine... this was not bending the rules, there was deliberate intent to break them.

Rob Hooton
8 Posted 13/12/2023 at 11:35:00
This could really haunt Chelsea – without European football and the revenue this brings with it, they could be stuck with a lot of players on lucrative very long deals. They might yet find themselves in the proverbial.

As the club have admitted their breaches, they should still be penalised swiftly. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is apparently not a mitigating factor…

Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 13/12/2023 at 11:54:45
Thank you for the perspective, Christine.

At at time when we have currently been penalised (subject to appeal) for being found guilty of overspending by £19.5M, Chelsea "bend" the rules and will seemingly get off scot-free.

Man City? Let's see what happens there.

And Nottingham Forest? They may have lapped up their Premier League promotion dividend, but they've signed about 138 players in 2 years. Yes, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point.

The Premier League has put itself in a position now in my opinion and if they go down this route, then the principlse and rules apply to everyone.

Brendan McLaughlin
10 Posted 13/12/2023 at 14:03:04
Tim #4,

This has nothing to do with players' wages.

It's simply concerned with how the transfer fee a club pays for a player is reflected in profit & loss figures in succeeding years. A few years ago, in a bid to bring uniformity, the Premier League decided the transfer fee should be written off over the length of the player's contract.

With that in mind, Chelsea did nothing wrong. If they signed players on 7- or 8-year contracts they were perfectly entitled to write the transfer fee off over a similar period. In truth, it's not even bending the rules.

From a financial perspective, it's not exactly "blue sky" thinking. I'm sure the option would have occurred to other clubs only for most the risk of poor signings on long-term contracts probably outweighed any perceived benefits associated with this approach.

The Premier League have now simply decided to bring their approach into line with that of Uefa.

Hope this helps.

Simon Harrison
11 Posted 13/12/2023 at 14:58:40
Christine [6] and [7],

Firstly, I hope that you and your health are on the mend, and that with the help of the odd libation, you are managing okay?

Also, as an aside, I remember a while back you posted that you didn't think your posts get read?

Well, I can assure you, even when I am just lurking, you have one avid reader; as your writing is very elegant and succint, and you seem to be able to get to the nub of the issues quickly. Whereas I tend to fumble around before getting there... As witnessed by the usual length of my posts!

Anyway, there we went again! Hehe.

I think you've nailed it in those two posts regards Chelsea and Man City. The two Blue pets of the Premier League brand.

There isn't really much to add to your excellent posts, other than that the then Government did everything they could to accommodate the continuation of Chelsea as a going concern – never mind new operation procedures for us by the Premier League mid-hearing – they (the government) made an exceptional case of riding-roughshod over all the usual and established procedures.

It makes you wonder just how 'Independent' the new government-appointed 'Independent Regulator' is going to be...?

As for Man City, being state-owned, and that state being a key part of the British export economy, is it any wonder that they have been treated as generously as they have?

As soon as the Premier League stated they had 115 outstanding charges, despite or rather because of the fact Man City had plead innocence, they should have been invited to present their case to the Premier League's disciplinary process via an Independent Commission. Instead of being allowed the largesse of being allowed to delay, obstruct, and obfuscate. All the while maintaining an obvious sporting advantage, with obvious breaches of the financial rules. For example, over-estimating sponsorship deals via companies controlled and owned by City's ownership.

There, that's my little bit added to your excellent posts.

Good wishes Christine :/) x

Christine Foster
12 Posted 13/12/2023 at 19:25:26
Simon, thank you for the kind words. Like most, I suppose I suffer from the usual ailments stemming from a like of too many visits to the fish and chip shop or Chinese takeaway growing up!

I have been blessed (or cursed depending on your perspective) with the ability to "join the dots" – seeing things others don't – and over the years it has served me well professionally with a senior management career that spanned decades and continents but I just smile because I am still that hard faced, snotty nosed kid from Scottie, with a wicked sense of humor...

Here in New Zealand for the second time in my life, I busy myself with other things, like tiling the bathroom floor this week or decorating... it lets my brain filter through the crap and find the interesting nuggets!

I confess to feeling out of sync on TW sometimes and I guess the days have gone when I would sit and write articles of great length or dubious insight. Kirkby and Kenwright fanned the flame in my heart because I just knew it was a con because I have worked for people like that, understood the message unsaid or the people they associated with. As I said, joined the dots...

The vested interests of the Premier League are clear in all they say and do but, as I remember Tonto saying, "White man speak with forked tongue" and 'corrupt' is a strong accusation. But it's not about money in brown envelopes under the table, it's about the decisions made behind closed doors, quiet conversations and the arrogance of power that they think assigns them to act one way and do the opposite out of the sight of their audience.

When such power and control is threatened, then token efforts are made, harming those clubs it can, without damaging the brand. That's the corruption unspoken, the lack of a level playing field, the decisions made to appease the brand or its empire builders.

I watched the Chelsea match: no banners, no chants, muted or canned crowd noise, sanitized and passionless, all to appease the brand. Interviews without contentious views only, otherwise binned. Yet through it all are the fans, singularly united for the first time in a generation, and I am proud of that – no matter what they try to do to us.

Scousers are a contentious lot, opinionated, aggressive, funny… but never try to besmirch or do us down, we have a peculiar sense of righteousness when people try to do us down – we are the thorn in the side of those who believe themselves to be better. We know what's right or wrong and don't suffer fools, liars or con-men of any cloth.

The Premier League did pick the wrong club to make an example of; it will not prevent the introduction of a football regulator. It will damage their brand and continue to do so but their arrogance is a thin veil covering up treatment of clubs and supporters they consider bit players in their game.

Enough! Now you can see why I no longer write! Opinionated scouser at the end of the world... Born Blue, for better, for worse...

Dave Abrahams
13 Posted 13/12/2023 at 20:49:36
Christine (12),

Another great post. It's not not that you don't write — you don't write often enough for quite a lot of us.

As Jake Abrahams, Scouse actor who died recently, said,
“Scousers can smell bullshitters as soon as they meet them”.

Did I ever mention I once had a 5- or 10-minute debate with our late Chairman?

Tony Abrahams
14 Posted 13/12/2023 at 21:16:12
We don't suffer fools, and can smell a bullshiter as soon as we meet them, but I don't think anybody has ever split the fanbase like our former chairman, and he stayed at the helm for years, and still has a lot of fans now.

We move on, hoping for a brand new dawn, and just waiting for Farhad to sell, but whilst 777 Partners are in pole position, with the constant rumours about not them not keeping up with their payments, I'm worried we will just be getting another version of Kenwright, who often seemed like he was borrowing from Peter just so he could pay Paul?

Christine Foster
15 Posted 13/12/2023 at 23:14:08
Cheers, Dave, I do owe you a pint after that, might even go to shorts, lol.

l feel with the passing of our Chairman, we have turned a corner and whilst he is remembered well, and rightly so, for all the good he did, he will always be remembered by me, as the primary reason we are in the mess we are today.

That chapter in my book is done. Today and tomorrow is about rebuilding our club, brick by brick, and it's as big a job as our new stadium.

We passed our tipping Point some time ago now, toe and nail are the order of the day. In Dyche we have a manager who understands that; our fans do too. The road back will not be quick or easy but we shall travel it as one. A club united.

Tony Abrahams
16 Posted 14/12/2023 at 08:18:04
But we shall travel it as one, a club united. 🙏

I sincerely hope so Christine, because the power that can be created by a united Evertonian fanbase knows no bounds, imo. Singing We Shall Not Be Moved!

Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 14/12/2023 at 08:43:40
To echo the sentiments above, great post, Christine, and keep writing. We won't be moved. Sheer unified defiance and fight.

You can feel it in the stadiums. You can see it on the pitch.

We need to get that song going again. It isn't sung enough these days.

Dave Cashen
18 Posted 14/12/2023 at 09:53:17
Top drawer stuff, Christine..

Guys, there is an old Buddhist teaching – "Two Arrows".

It goes "Life often shoots arrows at you and wounds you. By not accepting what has happened, by worrying about it, by complaining it's unfair and fretting about how long the pain will last, we tend to shoot a second arrow into the open wound, increasing and prolonging the pain. Pain is a given; suffering is optional."

There is a Scouse version – "Two Fucks".

It goes - "Shove your 10 points up your arses, you corrupt fuckers. Rather than suffer your shameful attempt to break us, we just get louder and prouder. If you're looking for victims, you've knocked on the wrong door. We mock and will continue to expose you."


Danny O’Neill
19 Posted 14/12/2023 at 10:10:54
Very well said, Dave.

Less dramatic, but I always remember a Dutch soldier and colleague giving me a phrase, which stuck.

When you point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back in your face.

Forget Sack the Board. Sack the Premier League.

Brian Harrison
20 Posted 14/12/2023 at 10:21:55
I am afraid that football has been taken over by the very rich and, as the banners say, money and greed lead to corruption, and there is very little we as fans can do.

Saudi Arabia are prime examples of how a corrupt regime can use its money to buy its way into anything it wants and sadly there is no way to stop it. The PIF which, as they admitted in a court in America is run by the Saudi rulers, so they are trying to destroy golf with their LIV tour, they have the money to stage all the top boxing events, and are now favourites to get the World Cup.

When it was rumoured that the British Government might block its takeover at Newcastle, they threatened if that happened they would cancel all their defence contacts with the government worth billions, so it wasn't blocked.

The Crown Prince of Saudi ordered the murder of Koshoggi in their embassy and the body was dismembered and flown out in diplomatic bags. Qatar were given the World Cup despite its appalling human rights record – and does anybody believe that it has enhanced the game in Qatar?

Also, you have Man Utd fans protesting over the Glazers and those demonstrations have been going on for years. Then last year, they were told the Glazers are selling up. But their joy was short-lived as the Glazers decided to keep the majority of the shares despite being offered £5 billion. So decided to keep the cash cow going and sold only 25% of the club.

Our fans protested about the running of our club long before the Premier League got involved. The Arsenal fans are far from happy with Kronke's ownership but, while the club have been doing well on the pitch, those protests have abated somewhat.

I am sure at some point Tony Bloom at Brighton may be tempted by an oil-rich state. As Wimbledon found out many years ago, you can only go so far producing gems that other clubs will pay millions for, and in the end, you can't produce enough to keep the club competitive.

James Hughes
21 Posted 14/12/2023 at 11:30:42
Dave C @18,

Could you please enlighten me as for what your acronym stands for please?

Christine Foster
22 Posted 14/12/2023 at 11:36:02
The Road Back.

The Premier League and its sugar daddy, Sky, has corrupted the English game to the point where it is no longer an open, fair or viable enterprise for anyone outside the Top 6 clubs.

What are the principles that need to be followed to ensure the game is played on a level playing field where skill and endeavour are not bought with a bottomless pocket and the bending or ignoring of the rules. We need to progress from the current model of the Premier League without killing clubs or the hope of fans. How can it be done?

1. The rules of any league are not there for the clubs to decide, they should be truly independent of vested interest.

2. A level playing field including salary caps and transfer limits in value per club must be introduced.

3. No club can spend more than a pre-set realistic transfer kitty ceiling adjusted each season. The same for each club. Wages for players cannot exceed a club basket value.

4. Transfer windows are abolished. As long as a club spends within its limits, a player can be bought or sold at any point.

5. No club can be sold to a state. No owner(s) can have more than one interest in the same league.

6. All club board members must be answerable to an AGM. Fans have a right to be heard and ask questions.

7. Television rights are to be shared in a more equitable fashion both within the Premier League and its so-called lower pyramid of lower leagues. At least 50% of all monies for rights on any league must be distributed evenly.

I am sure there are plenty more initiatives that could or should be considered by an independent regulator, the sooner the better.

Barry Hesketh
23 Posted 14/12/2023 at 11:39:07
James @21,

Could it be:

Just Like A Tree That's Standing By The Water Side,
We Shall Not Be Moved?

James Hughes
24 Posted 14/12/2023 at 13:23:58
Barry, thank you, I couldn't get anything to fit.
Christine Foster
25 Posted 14/12/2023 at 21:30:02
Whilst condemning the Premier League, one shouldn't forget the power that Sky have over them. It's an incestuous relationship, both would not survive without the other.

For the sake of fans alone, the bidding war for showing rights cannot be the sole domain of one company and whilst the income is required to all clubs the stranglehold of Sky needs to be broken or limited. It should be No 8 on my list.

Kim Vivian
26 Posted 15/12/2023 at 09:00:01
I hear much about Man City's 115 breaches or whatever it is but have no understanding precisely of what any of these breaches are. I am reasonably clear about our own, so am I just a couple of laps behind the main race regarding City?

Could anybody explain in simple terms for a simple fella specifically what any or all of these breaches actually are?

Brendan McLaughlin
27 Posted 15/12/2023 at 09:49:32
Kim #26

Don't think anyone really knows the details of the Cittee case.

Don't forget...up until the Independent Commission report no-one knew what Everton had done wrong.

Indeed the club strongly protested their innocence right up until they pleaded guilty.

Kim Vivian
28 Posted 15/12/2023 at 15:15:36
Thanks, Brendan – it's not just me then. That's a relief.

Which begs me now to ask – who provided the figure of 115 breaches or charges? If that was the Premier League, then they need to get their proverbial finger(s) out and start picking off the charges.

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