The rationale behind our current policy of not giving out contracts longer than a year to players older than 30 is fairly obvious. If a player manages to stay with a top club like Chelsea till he is 30 years old, then he is most probably a high performer who by virtue of his contributions has already earned a contract that pays him greater than 100,000 pounds per week. But the suspicions in people's mind is that his performances are going to go downhill once he reaches the wrong side of 30 and this leads to a fear about the situation in which the club ends up paying the player about 6-8M a year for just warming the bench over a period of 2-3 years. In the FFP era, this fear is a nightmare that is very close to reality and could severely handicap the club. So the club's policy seems to be justified but at present it is also causing some uneasiness in some of the fans.
The most visible example of the drawback of this policy is the current situation with Ashley Cole. Ashley is believed to be the best left back in the world by not only Chelsea fans but also many managers and rival fans. For argument's sake one could say that some other left backs like Marcelo and Jordi Alba are currently better than Cole but then again those two are already playing at the 2 most sought after clubs in the world and hence are not available. While Ryan Bertrand has proved that he is capable of putting in a good shift when Cole is injured or needs rest, he hasn't yet proved to be consistently better than Cole. One could say Bertrand can't become better than Cole unless he is given the chance to play consistently. But how can we keep the best left back in the world on the bench when he is available to us and is being paid a handsome wage. If we had a pro-youth policy like the one at Arsenal and the emphasis is on producing quality players instead of winning trophies then we might go ahead with Bertrand at LB. But that isn't the case at Chelsea and most of us don't complain about this. Also while Cole has displayed some weak performances in recent days when he isn't supported by the winger in front of him, it is a weakness that any LB might show including Bertrand.
In such a situation it seems foolish of Chelsea to not give the contract that Cole wants and risk losing him even though he could clearly be the best LB in the EPL. In fact I don't see the reason why Chelsea sticks to this policy even when no star player above the age of 30 seems to be ready to accept this policy and stay here with 1 year long contracts. Drogba didn't agree and the same seems to be the case with Cole and Lampard. Effectively, this policy seems to be an excuse that the club has to say goodbye to our star veterans once they reach 32 or 33 years of age. If that is the case, none of our legends like Drogba and Lampard will get to retire at the club that they love so much because no top footballer seems to want to retire at the age of 33. At this rate, even the biggest icon that our club has produced(not considering his personal life) - John Terry will one day be forced to look for an alternate club once his contract expires. This is not just a sentimental reaction. Fergie, through Giggs and Scholes, has proven that class is permanent and can benefit the club even when the player is 36-37 years old. They will have to be used sparingly, perhaps as substitutes, but when used the veterans produce a great effect. Contracts should be awarded based on the player's current level. If Cole sucks like Malouda does, then don't give him a new contract. Since Cole is still playing great, please give him the contract he wants so that he stays.
There is another effect that this policy might create which we all should consider. Let us consider a player like Ivanovic who is currently 28 years old and is probably performing at the peak of his abilities. The club needs him desperately because the only backup we have now is Azpi who will probably take a year or two to become an effective RB in the EPL. Now suppose Ivanovic's contract gets over in 2-3 years when he will be 30-31. He knows what is going to happen once he turns 31 and also that his recent performances have earned him the admiration of top clubs like Real Madrid and PSG. Now all of this is just conjecture and it could be any player like Ivanovic. I don't know what the actual contract situation is with him. But this player now has a greater incentive to leave Chelsea and sign a 5 year contract with PSG where a contract extension when he is 30 is also possible unlike at Chelsea.
Having said all this, I also feel a club also needs to safeguard its interests in this situation. Nobody should be in a situation in which they have to pay a player 6-8M when the player has lost his effectiveness and is mostly warming the bench. So what I propose that Chelsea should do is this. Offer a multi- year contract to the star player so that he gets the job security that he wants the most. But tell him that the high wages say 120K per week is guaranteed only for the 1st year of the contract. From the 2nd year onwards, only a basic pay of 30-50K per week is assured. The rest of the wages will depend on the number of appearances and could potentially rise to the full amount say 120K per week if the player is playing every week and remains the first choice at his position. If the player becomes 2nd or 3rd choice then he should be open to the possibility that he will be earning only minimum wages such as 30-40K per week. If needed, at the end of the first year the player can be offered the same contract again thereby ensuring fixed high wages for the next 1 year.
No fan wants a legend he/she loved to be kept at the club and paid high wages if he has lost his effectiveness and consistency. Sadly, I will admit that Drogba and Lampard have kind of become inconsistent, especially in the league. But this doesn't tell me for sure that Terry and Cole will also lose their sharpness once they reach 33 - 34. Hence if Chelsea let Cole leave this year and he continues to perform exceptionally at some other club, we all will feel hurt a lot.