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Chelsea F.C.: Undermining the game of football under the helm of American owner Todd Boehly

Stamford+Bridge+Stadium+CC-BY-SA-2.0+-+https%3A%2F%2Fcommons.wikimedia.org%2Fwiki%2FFile%3AInside_Stamford_Bridge.jpg
Stamford Bridge Stadium CC-BY-SA-2.0 – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inside_Stamford_Bridge.jpg

Chelsea F.C. spends almost $700 million in the 2022-23 transfer window with the hopes of climbing out of mid-table status. 

Now in the club’s 117th year in existence, Chelsea has always been a force to be reckoned with throughout all of European football. Considered one of the “big six” in Premier League football, Chelsea has won the Premier League five different times. This reputation has created an expectation that Chelsea must live up to every year and puts pressure on the owner Todd Boehly to do what must be done to compete. 

“You are constantly thinking about how do I put together the best chance to win,” Bohely said. 

Over the last five years, Chelsea has had five different managers leading the team. Having gone through managers like Antonio Conte, Frank Lampard, a former Chelsea player, and most recently Thomas Tuchel, Boehly is desperately searching for answers. 

Having busted after spending $113 million on Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku back in the 2021-22 transfer window, Chelsea geared up and changed the approach from searching for managers to signing players. 

In the 2022-23 transfer market, Chelsea spent an insane $666.7 million on about 15 players including five of the 10 most

The 10 biggest signings in Premier League history, led by Chelsea’s Enzo Fernández

expensive signings in the January window. Additionally, Chelsea claimed the title for the most expensive signing in Premier League history after they signed Argentine youngster Enzo Fernández for $130.4 million from Benfica. 

Chelsea’s behavior over last year’s transfer window leads people to wonder where all this money is coming from. Chelsea have spent a ridiculous amount of money, yet have avoided UEFA’s “Financial Fair Play (FFP) Sanctions,” which caps teams at how much money they can spend and how much they must disclose. Essentially, it is like a salary cap. How have they done this? Chelsea signs players to incredibly long contracts, including the Premier League’s longest signed by Mykhailo Mudryk for eight and a half years. This way, the large fee they would have to pay for him averages out to a more reasonable $11.3 million per year. 

UEFA is now making adjustments to the FFP rule, capping teams at only five years in which they can spread the original transfer fee over. This way, teams are left with either an unsellable player or one that may not generate much profit in return, forcing teams to be more cautious with their spending, and more thoughtful in their signing process. 

Football, unlike other sports around the world, has a much smaller period of time where players are considered in their prime. Results show that soccer players are in their prime from age 25-27. Therefore, the culture around soccer in Europe consists of much smaller contracts, as players develop and grow differently than any other sport. Chelsea, however, is obviously shifting away from this, altering football culture in a negative way which is disrespectful and controversial to the game. 

Boehly, an American owner, is used to the culture of American sports. Take, for example, baseball. In 2019, the Los Angeles Angels re-signed Mike Trout to a 12-year, $426 million extension. Baseball players have much longer primes than soccer players at around 10 years, yet Boehly brings this same approach to a completely different sport and culture. 

As a result, Chelsea is getting kickback from the football world, and I agree with the response of fans. Spending as much money as Chelsea did and what Boehly is doing in undermining football culture with foreign influence are disrespectful to the game. This is now creating a divide in culture in European football, and is creating a divide between American and European culture around soccer. American soccer is obviously behind in terms of their status competing with European soccer. The best players in America are leaving the States to pursue European contracts, as the game is more prioritized in Europe, and the quality is much greater. It’s sad to see Boehly, an American, continues to widen the gap between the two levels of football and sets Americans back in the footballing world. 

Under the reigns of Boehly and Chelsea’s 15 new signings, the Blues look to climb out of the middle of the table as Chelsea now sits ninth, 20 points behind league leaders Arsenal. Chelsea next plays on Wednesday, Feb. 15 in their Champions League battle against German side Borussia Dortmund. 

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