Frank Lampard has been in the news quite a bit of late, and unfortunately for the player, it's been for all the wrong reasons. When Lampard extended his stay in the Premier League until the end of this season, MLS fans everywhere were rightfully furious about the situation.
MLS didn't do themselves any favors in dealing with the matter, by confirming that at no point was Lampard ever under contract with the league. Don Garber instead claimed that he had signed a deal with NYCFC's ownership group, with an agreement in place about where he'd be spending the two-year term of that contract decided by CFG. The Premier League followed up with some comments about the player's contractual situation today, via The Guardian:
"Frank Lampard is registered as a Manchester City player until the end of the 2014/15 season."
"The Premier League has sought and received assurances from Manchester City that there is no agreement in place between the Club or City Football Group with New York City FC relating to the player."
Why is this relevant to Chelsea? Let me direct you to this section of the FA's regulations banning third party ownership:
"Before registering a Player for a Club, The Association must be satisfied that there exist no agreements between the Club or the Player and a Third Party under which a Third Party will own or continue to own any registration or economic rights or the like in the Player following registration. "
The FA define third parties as follows:
"‘Third Party’ means a person or entity that is not a Club or an Overseas Club "
New York City FC would almost certainly qualify as an overseas club, meaning that Man City wouldn't be breaching any FA regulations by simply taking the player on loan. Initially, this appeared to be what had happened with the Chelsea legend, and Lampard himself has referred to the loan repeatedly since the start of the season.
NYCFC and MLS, however, are now insisting that there was never a loan, with MLS commissioner Don Garber going so far to suggest that Lampard was under contract with CFG , as opposed to either club, the entire time. CFG then registered the player with their Premier League club, with the intention of registering him with NYCFC at a later time*.
*This is not all that different from how Traffic used to operate in South America
This scenario, however, would almost certainly be in violation of the FA's regulations involving third party ownership. CFG can't possibly considered to be a club or overseas club, as defined by the regulations in question, and therefore Lampard would have to be under contract directly with Manchester City if he's got no ties to MLS. If that's not the case, City would almost certainly be looking at some pretty major sanctions, and rightfully so.
I'll be curious to see the CFG reaction to this FA statement, as well as the response from an expansion side looking to save a little bit of face with their angry fans. CFG seemed to have backed themselves into a corner though, where they either own up to lying to MLS supporters for the better part of six months, or leave their Premier League side exposed for violating a TPO ban.
Whatever happens though, it's just a shame that Frank Lampard is the player caught in the middle.