In the final days of the 2013 summer transfer window, Chelsea secured the signatures of two players from Anzhi Makhachkala in the Russian Premier League, as Willian saw the light and then Samuel Eto’o joined as well.
Anzhi’s billionaire oligarch owner at the time was undergoing “a rocky few days”, and prompted by those problems, decided to pull the plug on the extravagant football project he had been financing at the club, conducting a near literal fire-sale of their best players. For us, that meant a fee of around £30m for Willian and Eto’o combined, with the latter thrown in almost as a little bonus after all the Willian drama.
Ten years on, there may be more drama to be had, with those two transfers now part of the Premier League’s investigation into (possible) financial irregularities — according to reports from The Times and the Telegraph yesterday. The fact that not everything may have been above board with these deals (especially with some of Roman Abramovich’s old cronies) is hardly surprising, though that doesn’t count as an excuse either.
EXCLUSIVE: A Premier League investigation into secret transfer-related payments made by Chelsea in the Abramovich era will include scrutiny of financial transactions around the signings of Willian and Samuel Eto’o.— Times Sport (@TimesSport) October 30, 2023
️@martynziegler & @Lawton_Times reporthttps://t.co/omZ1K4Jyxf
If all this sounds a bit familiar, it’s because these are the same irregularities that Chelsea self-reported to UEFA last year, after they were found during the ownership transition from Abramovich to BlueCo. UEFA were satisfied with a €10m fine and settlement, in part due to Chelsea being proactive and also due to the fact that these are historical violations of the not-so-recent past.
“These allegations pre-date the club’s current ownership. They concern entities that were allegedly controlled by the club’s former owner and do not relate to any individual who is presently at the club.
“Chelsea FC’s ownership group completed its purchase of the club on May 30, 2022. During a thorough due diligence process prior to completion of the purchase, the ownership group became aware of potentially incomplete financial reporting concerning historical transactions during the club’s previous ownership. Immediately following the completion of the purchase, the club proactively self-reported these matters to all applicable football regulators.
“In accordance with the club’s ownership group’s core principles of full compliance and transparency the club has proactively assisted the applicable regulators with their investigations and will continue to do so.”
-Chelsea statement; source: Telegraph
But the Premier League will now surely take their chance to flex on us (see also: Everton) — since they dare not do that against Manchester City or Newcastle United — which will likely mean another fine. Good thing we set that £100m aside for unforeseen liabilities. Technically there’s also a threat of a points deduction, and while that sounds overly dramatic, I suppose it cannot be ruled out in a such a random decision-making enviornment as football.