Chelsea FC finished 4th last season in the pandemic hit Barclays Premier League last season securing a UEFA Champions League spot going into the new season.
Many commended the job done by their new manager, Chelsea legend himself – Frank Lampard. However, that was the minimum expectation for a club like Chelsea.
Chelsea has a lot of financial backing from their Russian owner, Roman Abramovich who is not afraid of splurging on strengthening the squad and backing his manager. Although Chelsea finished 4th and were tied on points with Manchester United in 3rd, the gap between them and the champions Liverpool and runners-up, Manchester City, was huge. Chelsea finished 15 points behind Manchester City and 33 points behind Liverpool.
To bridge this gap, Frank Lampard decided that he’d have to bring in some talent from elsewhere rather than rely on academy players coming through the ranks and he made a couple of moves last season itself to strengthen a weakened (and ageing) Chelsea side.
Questions are being raised as to how Chelsea have managed to spend over £200 million in this year’s transfer market with the pandemic of COVID-19, which has massively impacted clubs due to no revenue coming in from ticket sales and a lot of other revenue sources that have been closed due to the Coronavirus. The answer is quite simple, really – Great business foresight.
Chelsea Football Club for their owner, Roman Abramovich, is not a business. He loves his football and the club is his baby. He has heavily invested in the club since taking over in 2003 (around £1.3 billion) of which £890 million has been spent in the last 6 years. That is the second-most among all clubs in England, just behind Manchester City.
Credit, however, must not solely be given to Roman Abramovich. Marina Granovskaia, also known as The Iron Lady and Football’s Most Powerful Woman, has been a key factor in helping Chelsea achieve not only financial success but also helped them bring in and sell “deadwood” for gold, in the transfer market.
So where did Chelsea manage to get so much money to spend in this transfer window? It mainly comes down to five reasons.
1) Player Sales
Chelsea may have spent £890 million in the last 6 years, but they also earned £450 million through player sales of which they earned £198 million in the last 2 years, which included Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata. These two sales saw the London club book a profit of around £173 million because, in Chelsea’s books, these players were almost fully amortized.
2) European Football
Chelsea won the Europa League back in 2018-2019. That helped them get an £18.3 million boost. Last season, Chelsea managed to make the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. This gave the club another £20 million and this season, securing a Champions League spot means that Chelsea gets another £31 million boost.
3) Television Rights
TV rights are a huge source of revenue for football clubs, especially, English clubs. Chelsea earned almost £23 million through TV plus participation fees for winning the Europa League back in 2018-2019. They also earned £52 million from TV money and other areas of economic gain for simply making the last 16 of the Champions League last season.
4) Sponsorship Deal with Nike and Jersey Sales
Marina Granovskaia brokered Chelsea’s sponsorship deal with Nike. This deal brings in £60 million every year to the club till 2032!
Chelsea of course also earns revenue through player jersey sales which is income coming in throughout the year. The London club has a huge fan base not only in London and Europe but also around the globe. They have become one of the biggest clubs since the Russian, Roman Abramovich took over the Chelsea FC.
5) Continuous Financial Support from Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich invested £247 million into Chelsea last season! This huge infusion of cash into the club has enabled Frank Lampard to freely demand players in the transfer market.
Chelsea finalized a deal for Hakim Ziyech from Ajax before the end of last season itself worth £34 million as a replacement for Willian who was released on a free transfer to Arsenal. Chelsea also finalized a deal for Timo Werner, Germany’s talisman, worth just £48 million before the end of last season, which saw Werner not feature in RB Leipzig’s knockout games in the Champions League.
This was just the beginning of what happened to be a phenomenally successful transfer market for the Stamford Bridge club. Chelsea signed England left-back Ben Chilwell from Leicester City for £50 million. Frank Lampard’s team had problems defensively last season so bringing in Chilwell just added to the quality they require at the back. In addition to this, Chelsea also managed to sign the young centre back from Nice, Malang Sarr, on a free transfer. They also picked up Thiago Silva from PSG for free, adding to squad depth in the centre back positions.
The latest and biggest blockbuster transfer, however, has been that of Kai Havertz. Chelsea managed to sign the young German attacking midfielder from Bayer Leverkusen for around £89 million, making him the most expensive transfer in this year’s transfer window.
One must also not forget that Chelsea spent £58 million last season to bring in the talented young American, Christian Pulisic.
The latest acquisition for Frank Lampard’s side was goalkeeper Edouard Mendy whose market value is said to be around £22 million. The Chelsea Manager had openly criticized his goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga for shoddy performances over the course of the season and it is no surprise that he signed the Senegalese from Stade Rennais F.C. This is just to add to the valuable transfers they made last season by bringing in Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic. Christian Pulisic has been the perfect replacement for Chelsea legend Eden Hazard, who was sold to Real Madrid last season.
Only Real Madrid have spent more than Chelsea in a transfer window. Madrid spent a staggering £272.6 million last season in bringing in Ferland Mendy (£47 million), Eden Hazard (£88.5 million), Luka Jovic (£52.4 million), Rodrygo (£40 million) and Eder Militao (£42.7 million) but that only helped them win the La Liga as they failed to progress in the UEFA Champions League, getting knocked out by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Round of 16.
Chelsea just overtook Manchester City who spent £223.8 million back in 2017 when Pep Guardiola brought in Bernardo Silva for £43 million, Ederson for £34.7 million, Kyle Walker for £50 million, Benjamin Mendy for £52 million and Danilo for £26.5 million. Guardiola invested heavily into strengthening his defence but that was only enough for domestic success as City failed to achieve their ultimate goal of winning the Champions League, which still eludes them. The London club spent a staggering £243 million on 7 players!
With the amount spent by Chelsea this transfer window, Chelsea must contend for the Premier League title and should have a successful showing in the UEFA Champions League but history does not seem to be on their side judging by the bust seasons of Real Madrid and Manchester City after spending big in the transfer market. For Lampard to succeed, it must be a “Win Now” approach especially, given that they finished 4th in the league last season.
A trophyless season for the club will raise a lot of eyebrows and questions around Frank Lampard’s management and lack of promotion of Chelsea’s youth players. Anything below runners-up would be considered a failure and not making the quarter-finals of the Champions League will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Chelsea faithful.