A Hazardous business? Chelsea singing financial blues but should rebound next year

By David Owen

January 2 – Chelsea, the West London club whose new young team has surprised many this season with the spirit and consistency of their play under former talisman Frank Lampard, has reported a hefty loss for the year to end-June 2019.

The Blues used a New Year’s Eve statement on the club website to disclose a loss of £96.6 million for the corporate entity Chelsea FC plc. The club insisted, however, that it continued to comply with European football body UEFA’s break-even criteria under the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

The club recently had a FIFA-imposed two-window transfer ban halved by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). This has cleared it to re-enter the market this month, should it see fit to draft in some experience to supplement the verve and energy of the likes of Oluwafikayomi Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham.

The results statement did not make it clear whether the loss took account of the transfer of star player Eden Hazard, who left for Real Madrid in a big money deal in the close season. On the assumption that it did not, a strong turnaround in profitability can probably be anticipated in 2019-20: the vast majority of the Belgian playmaker’s reported €100 million fee should go straight to the bottom line.

The 2018-19 figures will have included the sale of another Belgian international to Real Madrid, namely Thibaut Courtois. This was more than offset, however, by the impact of a raft of new signings. Chelsea said it “invested a record £280.6 million in the playing squad during the year”. Acquisitions included new goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, along with Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovačić and Jorginho.

All told, turnover for a season in which the club won the Europa League under Maurizio Sarri, crept up to £446.7 million. Revenue from commercial activities, which weighed in at £165.4 million in 2017-18, was said to have risen by £14.5 million. Both broadcasting and matchday turnover were, by contrast, down – the latter by £7.3 million, or not far off 10%, the former by £3.9 million to just above £200 million.

Few other details were provided. Chairman Bruce Buck said the club was “well placed to sustain its pursuit of success both on and off the pitch as well as maintain its financial stability over the coming years”. More detail should emerge when the accounts reach Companies House.

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