The opening act of Frank Lampard’s tenure at Stamford Bridge has so far been a tempestuous affair, with the budding optimism brought upon by the ebullience of youth being countered by a pervasive defensive fragility and lack of experience.
Manchester City have been found guilty of breaching rules relating to signing international players under the age of 18 and have been handed a £315,000 fine as a result.
The punishment is causing controversy, as Chelsea were found guilty of the same offence in February and following multiple appeals, were handed a transfer ban that spans over two windows as well as a £460,000 fine.
City provided a club statement on the 13th of August confirming that FIFA Disciplinary Committee had taken action against them. The statement also added that Manchester City accept complete responsibility for their actions but places the blame on a ‘misinterpretation of the regulations in question’.
“The Club regards highly and shares FIFA’s determination to ensure the protection of minors in football and has cooperated fully with the investigation,” said City.
Fans were quick to point out that the breaches were the same as those that have recently cost Chelsea a summer transfer window whereby they could not strengthen their squad with any new players, with another to follow in the January window too.
This has caused uproar, particularly among Chelsea fans, who have been quick to take to social media to express their frustration. Chelsea fans were not pleased to see one of their biggest rivals evade a similar punishment to what they are currently dealing with.
Some fans have put the leniency down to FIFA recognising City as a leading European team currently on the rise and therefore suggested that a ban was not given in order to avoid hindering their current quest to win a Champions League.
Recent developments however suggest that City escaped a ban due to their cooperation in FIFA’s investigation.
“At any time prior to the meeting set up to decide the case by the relevant judicial body, a party may accept responsibility and request the FIFA judicial bodies to impose a specific sanction,” said a FIFA spokesmen.
“Manchester City has accepted its responsibility, which has been considered by FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee in its decision.”
According to this new information, it would appear that Chelsea’s punishment was greater than that of City’s due to their insistence that the accusations were incorrect.
In their statement in February, Chelsea made it clear that they denied responsibility for any illegal signings, as well as adding that they had cooperated fully with FIFA’s investigation.
“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision,” said Chelsea. “The club wishes to emphasise that it respects the important work undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and has fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation.”
Chelsea have already made an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have their ban lifted. The CAS made a statement confirming that they had filed the complaint in June. This appeal did not mean that Chelsea’s ban was frozen over the summer window however as the CAS also revealed that Chelsea had requested no such action.
It is understood that Chelsea remain hopeful that a decision to overturn the ban might come before the January window.