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On selling Yossi Benayoun or Raul Meireles and its effect on FFP.

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Earlier today I threw this form up for you guys (and gals) to vote on what you would do with 13 different Chelsea players if you were in charge of the club. Thus far we've had over 1,000 responses, and every single player had an overwhelming majority (at least 80%) voting in favor of 1 of the 2 possible outcomes through the first 1,000 votes. With that in mind, the community as a whole seems to have 2 players purchased in the FFP era whom they'd prefer to see sold.

If you hadn't guessed by the title, the 2 players in question were Yossi Benayoun and Raul Meireles. I had a sneaking suspicion that this would be the case, so I actually wrote a good portion of this last night. As of this moment, more than 90% of the votes cast would see us selling both Raul and Yossi before the close of this transfer window. Last week we looked at how transfer fees would be accounted, and with that in mind we're going to figure out what we'd need to make on these 2 players to "break even" for this season.

I'm sure that some of you haven't bothered to click that last article I linked, so I'm going to highlight the relevant portion now. The following is a simple explanation of how sales will be accounted for using amortization of transfer fees, and ironically it uses 1 of the 2 guys we all seem to want gone:

What if we sold a guy that counts against FFP though? What do you do with the portion of their transfer fee still to be accounted for? It's fairly simple actually, but it does take a little math. Let's use Yossi Benayoun in this example, as he's likely to be sold this summer anyway. Let's say we sell Yossi for £1 million. We had Yossi on the books for £2 million this season. We'd take that total, subtract the £1 million from the sale, and Yossi would cost £1 million against the books this season.

It's fairly simple, right? Yossi Benayoun has £2 million of his transfer fee still counting against the Chelsea books. If we sell him for £2 million, we "break even" on the books. If we sell him for more, we'll show profit for this season's accounting. If we sell him for anything less than £2 million, we'll still be showing the difference as loss for this season. We'll not be paying his wages though, so I guess it's all a question of just how much money Chelsea want to eat to get rid of Yossi.

What about Raul though? Well I didn't look at Raul in this article, but I used Fernando Torres as an example of how to approach a player with multiple years still to run on their deal. Here's what I wrote:

For this example we'll look at Fernando Torres. Torres through his first season and a half has seen £13.5 million go against the books. He's got 4 years and £36.5 million left to account for. Let's say we manged to sell Torres for £20 million tomorrow. How would we account for that? Well, we'd take all of the £36.5 million still owed to Torres, subtract the £20 million we just got for him, and record the £16.5 million as a 1 time loss for the 2012/13 season. Torres would never again count against the FFP books, we'd take the 1 time hit and move on.

Again, this is simple math. In the case of Raul Meireles we still have £9 million of his transfer fee on the books. If we sell him for £9 million exactly, he just disappears from the books. Anything more, we show profit this year. Anything less, we show loss this season. The interesting thing about Raul, though, is that he comes off the books entirely after this year regardless. Next summer we'd need to sell for £6 million to break even, the following summer £3 million.

After running the numbers, I have some thoughts on both of these players. First, I'll touch on Yossi Benayoun. We aren't likely to get £2 million for Yossi from anyone. He's a decent option on the bench. His wages aren't going to hurt us. He disappears from the books next year anyway. Considering that we have 25 man roster spots available, I'd prefer to just store Yossi behind the glass to be broken in case of emergency unless we get £2 million or more. There's just no reason to take a loss on the guy in the last year of his deal.

Raul I have some slightly more mixed feelings on. I've never been a fan of his, even going back to the profile I did on him when we were first linked. I still don't see Meireles as anything more than a semi-useful part going forward, and with 3 years left of his contract I'd welcome the chance to get him off the books. Actually, I'd jump at that chance. That said, I don't want to give him away, as he's still a decent enough role player for Chelsea. I feel he's a better player than Yossi, and we're just not as deep in his position.

I look at Meireles, and see a player that we should be able to sell for £6 million next summer if we want to without too much trouble. I don't see a player we can get £9 million for right now. In all likelihood, Raul will be on the Chelsea books for some amount this season whether he's here or not. With that in mind, I'd hold out for something very close to the £9 million we still have to account for with Raul if we're going to sell. If we get it, great, I'd sell in a heartbeat. If not, Raul stays, as I can see us breaking even on him next summer. Either way, I'd be expecting Josh McEachran to replace Raul next season.

Obviously, we're each entitled to our own views on what to do with these players. The finances of the situations are worth keeping in mind though, as the loss accrued by selling them just to get rid of them needs to be factored into the cost of replacement. At that point, we really need to consider if the additional cost outweighs the upgrade, as cost is important going forward with FFP.

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