COMMENT: Chaos. Turmoil. For Chelsea. After this transfer ban. It's end of the world stuff. Or so they say...
We could go for the sensational. The hyperbolic. A record spending spree this summer to cover those two transfer window suspensions. A recall for all 41 of those loanees dotted around the world to make up the numbers. Even the glass half full approach of Chelsea's best prospects finally getting a chance with the transfer chequebook about to be closed for a year.
We could do that. But it'd be misleading. There's no panic inside the club. No scramble to make plans. To seek bank loans. To buy big. Instead, it's almost business as usual.
To be fair, there was some frustration on Friday. Even anger. Those inside Chelsea left indignant when FIFA's message came through that a ruling had been made and to expect it to be released to the public in an hour's time. But the practicalities of dealing with a two window transfer ban isn't the club's main concern.
Yeah, it's irksome. Aggravating. But what's upset the board is simply the guilty ruling itself. As the club stated in it's appeal notice, 92 player transfers were investigated and 63 cleared. The remaining 29 - which FIFA have not made public - are what has tripped Chelsea up. This despite the club providing documented evidence for each of those cases. While the general spirit of the reporting since Friday is that Chelsea are clearly guilty, it's difficult to see how any commentator can claim as much when none of those 29 cases have been made public. There's even been some backtracking on the Bertrand Traore deal, with it emerging - as Tribalfootball.com showed on Friday - that Chelsea had successfully dismissed an original investigation into the now Lyon striker's time with the club before turning pro.
So for the moment, with Chelsea due to lodge their appeal, there's a hit on the club's reputation. On it's youth recruitment methods. And the individual staff members involved. Yes. Individual staff members. With names. Reputations. And careers all now on the line. Without knowing the identity nor rulings of these 29 outstanding transfers, it'd do well those simply accepting FIFA's version to wait until everything is on public record and available to soberly assess.
In the meantime, back to those practicalities.
If the appeal is thrown out. If FIFA's punishment still stands. Well, for a club of Chelsea's status, it's little more than a slap on the wrist.
A €500,000 fine? Should Eden Hazard be convinced to sign new terms, it'll be little more than a week's wages for the Belgian. And for the two transfer windows, Chelsea need only look to Spain to see how little it really affects a team - even in the short-term.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have all been hit by such transfer bans over the past four years - and haven't suffered for it. Indeed, we'd argue Atletico are in a better place now thanks to FIFA's intervention.
Cycle back 18 months and Antoine Griezmann was all set to sign for Manchester United. Terms had been settled. His United mad brother was bouncing. The coveted No7 shirt at Old Trafford was to be his. That is until the Court of Arbitration in Sport sided with FIFA and threw out Atletico's appeal.
Griezmann at the time admitted: "It is true that leaving while they cannot recruit this summer would be a dirty blow to the club that gave me a lot of confidence and that allowed me to be the player I am today.
"After talking with my sports advisor, the coach and the captains, I decided to stay. We're going to hold on until December and see if we can bring a few players back in December."
And to their credit, Atletico repaid that commitment by showing some cojones (sorry, couldn't resist that one) and aggressively pursuing the return of Diego Costa from Chelsea and prising away of Vitolo from Sevilla. This all the while they were 'officially' banned from doing transfer business.
Costa and Vitolo would eventually be registered and seeing the ambition of Atletico played out in front of him, Griezmann happily re-committed to the club - via Gerard Pique's disastrous (at least for Barcelona and Pique himself) pre-World Cup docu-drama reveal.
For Chelsea. For the Blues support. Even for those hopefuls running around for Joe Edwards' U23s. This is what lays in wait for you. Basically, business as usual. Though with the potential prospect of Hazard 'doing a Griezmann' and resisting Real Madrid in his club's time of need.
But there'll be no meltdown. No tumult. Courtesy of the LaLiga's three biggest clubs. Chelsea have a blueprint to follow. They could even make the whole thing work in their favour.
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