Chelsea have been banned from signing players in the next two transfer windows after a FIFA investigation found them guilty of breaching rules surrounding the transfer of minors.
The Blues are said to be in breach of article 19 of FIFA's rulebook in the dealings of 29 international minors, and broke article 18 regulations in the case of two more players.
FIFA's official statement read: "The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the English club Chelsea FC and The Football Association for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.
"Chelsea was found to have breached art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of twenty-nine (29) minor players and to have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players.
"The club also breached art. 18bis of the Regulations in connection with two agreements it concluded concerning minors and which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.
"The Disciplinary Committee sanctioned Chelsea with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two (2) complete and consecutive registration periods. This ban applies to the club as a whole - with the exception of the women’s and futsal teams - and does not prevent the release of players.
"Additionally, the club was fined CHF (Swiss francs) 600,000 and given a period of 90 days to regularise the situation of the minor players concerned.
"The Football Association was also found to have breached the rules in connection with minors. It was fined CHF 510,000 and given a period of six months to address the situation concerning the international transfer and first registration of minors in football.
Chelsea have been braced for this. They can appeal to FIFA & to CAS if necessary & even if they fail to get the punishment reduced/overturned, the timeframe of the process should grant them this summer to do any essential business #cfc— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) February 22, 2019
"The protection of minors is a key element in FIFA’s overall regulatory framework relating to the transfer of players and effective enforcement of these rules is paramount, as also confirmed on various occasions by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"The decisions issued by the Disciplinary Committee were notified today and can be contested before the FIFA Appeal Committee."
Chelsea will have a chance to appeal this ruling and it is possible that, even if upheld, their punishment could be delayed until after this summer’s window, meaning they would be free to make signings between June and August.