Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Cost of Chelsea's Failure


The past 10 months have been miserable for the blue part of South West London. From the very first day, Chelsea Football Club's season has been embroiled with controversy, instability and most importantly, failure. 



In any season of the Abramovich era, the scale of Chelsea failure would have been shocking- but coming after a season of winning the Premier League/Capital One Cup double with such comfort, no one saw this coming.

It's no difficult task to quantify Chelsea's overall lacklustre performance. Last season, with 30 games played, Chelsea were cruising in 1st place, with 70 points and a game in hand over second placed Arsenal, who were 7 points behind. The Capital One Cup was in the bag. This season, after 30 PL games, Chelsea are 10th in the league. On 41 points, and for the first time in a very long time, having drawn more matches than won. Elsewhere, the Blues were disposed of with relative ease from the Champions League and FA Cup by PSG and Everton respectively, and, well, it'd be better not to mention the Capital One Cup.

Now, much is made of the excesses of money in football- something that, no doubt, Chelsea have profited from massively over the past decade or so. But while this excess has rewarded success generously, it has equally put failure at a massive cost. Especially for a club like Chelsea, who have performed so consistently in recent years.

Premier League Prize Money 2014-15
[sportingintelligence.com]
Chelsea's Premier League struggles will cost them. Last season, the club won the largest ever Premier League prize bounty of £99m. Now, of course, any estimates of this year's prize money are totally dependent upon how we predict Chelsea will finish this year. If we assume merit payments (the portion of prize money dependent upon final position in the table) will stay the same as last year (in reality it will most likely increase, a little), Chelsea will lose out on £11m.

This won't be the greatest cost of failure this season, for Chelsea, however. Had Chelsea not lost to PSG and gone on to the final of the UEFA Champions League, they could have netted an extra £30m over the £18.7m they earned this year*. If they had won it, they could have earned up to £42m more.

But to be honest, while Chelsea were expected to go far in the UCL at the start of the year, few expected the Blues to win the competition- so perhaps these aren't the costs we should be thinking about. What we should be remembering is that, thanks to a terrible Premier League season, remaining in and winning the Champions League was Chelsea's last, thin hope of playing the Champions League next year. Knocked out of that by Paris Saint Germain, and now being very unfeasible that Hiddink's men will rise up the table to fourth from 11 points behind, Champions League football will not be visiting Stamford Bridge until at least August 2017. This has serious financial consequences.

It means that as substantial an amount of money won, even from such a disappointing campaign as this year's, will not reach the club accounts until at least the 2017/18 season. Even if they qualify for the Europa League next year, the prize money amounts for the two competitions are night and day. Tens of millions will be lost from Chelsea's failure to qualify for next year's Champions League, and this will most likely be the biggest financial consequence of the team's failures this season.

With chances of Champions League football next
season pretty much gone for Chelsea, we won't be
seeing similar celebrations any time soon.
To put these losses into perspective, remember that Chelsea Football Club, despite the footballing success and achieving its second highest ever turnover of £314m, lost £23.1m last season, with no particular massive expenditures to justify the loss. It's worrying to think that what the next two years have in store for Chelsea's finance when you consider such a loss, during one of the club's successful years.

UEFA'S Financial Fair Play Regulations are tightening for the next 3 years, allowing only a loss of €30m (£23m) to be incurred in each season. Now, I'm pretty sure the club would have some sort of way to avoid substantial consequences, even if they did break this rule. But if Chelsea were to fall foul of the FFP regulations next season and be punished, it would not just be a huge embarrassment for the club, but it could restrict their re-entrance into the Champions League, worsening the financial issues.

The Blues' finances will be made worse by the fact that this failure will necessitate the club to spend more, particularly on the acquisition of players. With a new manager coming in, the squad looking weak in a number of areas, and a number of key players set to leave in the search of UCL football next season, Chelsea will have to spend big this summer to rebuild the squad. It will be interesting to see how the club manages to balance finances- after all, investment is required to open up future successes, but in the short term will only worsen the financial situation.

Chelsea have some big investments to make in the near
future- not least the £500m renovation of Stamford Bridge.
Not only is Chelsea due to invest in players, but it is also working on a drastic renovation of its stadium, Stamford Bridge, a project expected to cost over £500m. Failure to get back on to track financially over the next few years will jeopardise this grand project.

This is, you could say, a pessimistic look at Chelsea's financial prospects for the next year or two. But, it is indeed a situation that the club must be aware of, and one that teaches us the perils of failure in football as well as the gifts of success. The bigger you are, the harder you fall- and while it is unlikely (hopefully!) that Chelsea will collapse as a result of this season's failures alone, the financial effect will no doubt be felt hard.

What's your opinion on this matter? Will failure this season leave Chelsea in the lurch for the future or do you think will they bounce back quickly? Leave a comment below! 

*Estimates made from statistics from Total Sportek.
Mohammad Lone Editor