Since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea Football Club in 2003, the club has been labelled to have bought all the success that followed the Russian billionaire’s arrival. It’s true Chelsea have spent hundreds of millions of pounds to obtain the players they’ve had over the past few years and attract the world-class managers to guide a team of superstars to success, but it’s their efficiency with money that has proved so successful.
Despite the big spending, Chelsea have not forked out large sums for players, but instead, they choose to find value for money in their signings. Fernando Torres being the anomaly, there aren’t many signings over £30m in Chelsea’s history and it’s that figure that has been the most successful over the years. Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante are all names that arrived at Chelsea for a fee in the region of £30m and if you think of what they are worth now, that’s pretty good business. Because Chelsea don’t overspend, it’s difficult to make a loss on their players and that’s another trend that is frequent in Chelsea’s business.
Players are bought for low fees and either go straight into the first-team, train with the younger sides or go out on loan. This gives Chelsea a chance to put unwanted players in the shop window and increase their value. For example, Nathan Ake impressed so much at Bournemouth last season that his transfer value had pretty much doubled by the end of his spell at the Vitality Stadium. He was sold to Bournemouth for £20m last week and, after coming through Chelsea’s academy, that’s a tidy £20m profit for the Blues. A £12m profit was also made on the recent sale of Bertrand Traore – who had impressed with his performances out on loan at Ajax – to Lyon.
Another way the loan strategy works is that Chelsea are in control of their players. Take Victor Moses, instead of selling him for a low price and buying him back for a considerably higher one a few years later, Chelsea kept hold of him until his opportunity came and now he’s a key player in the side without Chelsea having to pay a single penny to bring him back. The huge alumni of players at the club allows Chelsea to generate funds easily; this year alone they have made almost £130m in player sales, including the sale to Oscar to Shanghai SIPG for over £50.
It’s widely thought that Chelsea sell players too early because of the success a number of them, such as Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne, have had since leaving West London. However, it would’ve been very unlikely that these players were given a chance at Chelsea and therefore they wouldn’t have improved as they have done with more game time at other clubs. When Chelsea sell promising players, they often insert a clause in the deal where the buying club has to give a percentage of the next sale of the player to Chelsea. If these players are academy players, it automatically generates more profit.
This type of business with younger players has more than paid for the state-of-the-art youth facilities at Cobham so the academy basically becomes a money-making machine. There are problems with this however, with a serious lack of academy products in the first-team, with Chelsea opting to pay for ready-made players rather than give the youngsters a chance. In times when success is needed and it’s needed now, it’s difficult for managers to trust the youth products when they are not proven at the highest level.
With the imminent signings of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alex Sandro, and Antonio Rudiger, Chelsea may not even be at a loss at the end of this year and that is quite remarkable. These strategies make Chelsea one of the best-run clubs in world football and also one of the most successful. A prime example of Chelsea’s business niche very recently was the sale of Asmir Begovic for £10m and the signing of Willy Caballero for free. A swap in an insignificant position and Chelsea have made £10m right there. It’s as simple as that.