Why Chelsea could face ban from Europa Conference League

  • Chelsea will earn qualification to Europa Conference League on Sunday if they win Carabao Cup
  • Blues mindful of finances facing further scrutiny from UEFA
  • Club tipped to agree to plea deal which would see them serve one-season European ban

Chelsea can qualify for the Europa Conference League this weekend
Chelsea can qualify for the Europa Conference League this weekend / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images, Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Chelsea will secure European qualification on Sunday if they beat Liverpool in the final of the Carabao Cup, but they could yet be banned from UEFA competitions next season.

Victory in the Carabao Cup should assure the Blues of a spot in the play-off round of the Europa Conference League, while they could yet earn a Europa League or Champions League spot via their Premier League finish. But there is an argument to be made that Chelsea could do without qualification to the Europa Conference League at all.

The Athletic report Chelsea are currently only liable to Premier League Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR), and these regulations have been much kinder on their recent finances than UEFA's club licensing and financial sustainability regulations (FSR).

Chelsea's summer 2023 transfer spend is amortised at £59.4m a season under PSR as Premier League clubs only recently voted to cap player amortisation at five years. Many of the Blues' summer signings put pen to paper on contracts ranging from six to eight years in length.

However, if Chelsea had to comply with UEFA and FSR, then they would have to factor that summer transfer spend to £80.9m under their five-year amortisation rules. The example put forward by The Athletic is Moises Caicedo's £100m move from Brighton, which is amortised at £12.5m annually under PSR but would be at £20m a year in FSR calculations.

Nicolas Jackson
Caicedo and Jackson signed long-term contracts last summer / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

The Premier League permits clubs can make losses of up to £105m across a three-season span, whereas UEFA only allow losses of up to £68.5m over a two-year period. Chelsea are just about within PSR calculations but it will be tougher for them to come in line with FSR.

This could see Chelsea rush to sell players and make further profit through player trading prior to June 30 - the end of the latest financial monitoring period.

An extra wrinkle to Chelsea's problems is many members of their first-team squad are expected to receive wage rises and bonuses dependant on qualification to European competition. However, the finances that come with playing in the Europa Conference League pale in comparison to UEFA's two other club competitions - West Ham United received £16m for winning last season's tournament, while Chelsea earned £82m just from reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League.

As such, football finance guru Kieran Maguire put forward the argument that Chelsea may be better off agreeing to a one-year ban from European competition. It may not be worth the Blues playing in a competition that is not lucrative while also subjecting themselves to further financial scrutiny.

A similar case arose with AC Milan earlier this decade. The Rossoneri agreed to a one-year expulsion having found to have been in breach of UEFA's old Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, missing out on a season of Europa League football but thriving in their campaigns since.