So Chelsea have been banned from buying players for the best part of two years: story on BBC Sport website.
At first – and not purely because of an anti-money, anti-big club mentality – most football fans will think “Good” – non-Chelsea fans anyway.
But does anyone expect this to stick? I certainly don’t.
If Chelsea did, as Fifa says, induce a player (Gael Kakuta) to break his contract then they deserve to be punished.
For too long football has been about the size of your bank balance and not the size of your talent. Any time a smaller club has something good (a player, a manager even a physio) it’s only a matter of time before a bigger club comes knocking – or more often they don’t even knock, they just take.
It happens at all levels of football. It’s not limited to Premier League clubs, bigger clubs further down the pyramid just pass the treatment on down the ladder – much like a playground bully is usually bullied themselves.
But it’s just the big clubs throwing their weight around. Would Kakuta have been tempted to leave Lens by say Scunthorpe or Darlington?
Can you imagine how that conversation would go? “Gael – want to come and play for us? You’d have to take a pay-cut and… Gael? Gael? Hello? He hung-up…”
Much as with Uefa’s ban of Eduardo a precedent has been set. Fifa have set their stall out, backing up their own rules with action. All good so far.
The ban on Chelsea, announced today, forbidding them from registering players for two transfer windows (effectively until January 2011)and fining them €780,000 is a strong and determined stance.
Chelsea have 21 days to appeal. If they don’t I will be flabbergasted.
The thing with the big clubs is they have big lawyers. An appeal will be lodged. All it will take is a few mentions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport; “restriction of trade” and so on.
Again, the precedent has been set. Roma were punished similarly over the signing of Phillippe Mexes. Their appeal saw the ban halved and the fine substantially reduced. Don’t be suprised if the same happens here.
If it does the ban is effectively useless and Fifa, once again, shown as toothless in their attempts to prevent the big clubs bullying everyone else.
If Chelsea’s ban is halved they’re banned from just one window (this coming January 2010). The January windows are usually a course of last resort for struggling clubs and/or those that have changed manager and need a change of personnel.
Any decent players are usually so tightly bound into a contract and/or Cup-tied for important European matches that the big clubs rarely do business in January.
Fining Chelsea a few hundred thousand euros is the same as the FA fining multi-millionaire footballers a few thousand pounds for breaching their rules. A mere drop in a vast ocean.
It’s almost as if Fifa dish out hefty punishments knowing they’ll be reduced on appeal.
As any sports coach will tell you, feeling beaten before you even begin is the first step to certain defeat.