Chelsea could face points deduction over FFP breaches

  • Investigation reveals hidden payments made by Roman Abramovich when Chelsea owner
  • Deals involving associates of Antonio Conte and Eden Hazard among those in question
  • Chelsea could get points deduction if found to have breached Premier League rules

Chelsea may be in trouble
Chelsea may be in trouble / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Chelsea could be punished by the Premier League for historic breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations uncovered by a new investigation.

Fresh evidence has come to light suggesting that former owner Roman Abramovich circumnavigated FFP rules during his time in charge of the Blues.

A joint investigation - known as Cyprus Confidential - between the Guardian, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Germany's Paper Trail Media and other media has revealed Abramovich made hidden payments to key figures relating to Chelsea's transfer business and managerial changes.

Italian football agent Federico Pastorello, who is believed to have close ties to ex-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, sold a 75% stake in American business Excellent Investment Fund to Abramovich's Conibair Holdings company on July 18 2017 - the same day Conte signed a new £9.6m-a-year contract at Stamford Bridge.

Crucially, Pastorello denies representing Conte on an official basis and declined to further comment on the investigation.

Cyprus Confidential also uncovered a £6m payment in March 2013 from Abramovich's Leiston Holdings company to Gulf Value FZE for 'advisory services […] related to […] sport research and consultancy'. The deal was signed off on Gulf Value FZE's side by John Bico-Penaque - the agent of Eden Hazard, who joined Chelsea from Lille at the start of that season. Penaque is said to have wanted a £6m commission payment for the deal that saw Hazard head to west London.

Roman Abramovich
Abramovich's dealings are being questioned / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Other payments in question include various offerings worth £6m to companies associated with Zoran and Vladica Lemic - the latter of whom is a key adviser to Abramovich and played a notable role in recruiting Arjen Robben, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Carlo Ancelotti.

As part of the Guardian's arm of the investigation, four lawyers were consulted over potential punishments Chelsea could face in retrospect, with all four agreeing that if the club did not disclose of these payments then they would likely be in breach of FFP rules - which is punishable with a points deduction.

The Premier League are already investigating Chelsea's finances between 2012 and 2019 after the club's new owners came forward and reported 'incomplete financial information' was submitted when Abramovich was in charge.

A Chelsea spokesperson said: "These allegations pre-date the club's current ownership. They are based on documents which the club has not been shown and do not relate to any individual who is presently at the club."

As their own investigation is ongoing, the Premier League declined to comment on Cyprus Confidential.

The FA have confirmed they are investigating the matter, while UEFA have already hit Chelsea with a £8.6m fine following the new owners' admission and are restricted in enacting punishments for breaches older than three years.