Chelsea manager Frank Lampard admitted the club will be on the lookout for new faces in the January window after a FIFA-imposed transfer ban was reduced on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Friday.
The ban, imposed following violations in the recruitment of minors, was reduced from two transfer windows to one, which Chelsea already served in the summer.
A fine was also reduced from 600,000 Swiss francs ($607,000; £462,000) to half that amount by the Lausanne-based court.
Lampard insisted he had not yet had any conversations with Chelsea’s board about transfer plans, but will start them now in earnest.
“It’s a positive outcome for us. It allows us the potential to look at the market going forward,” Lampard said at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Everton.
“So I’m pleased from a footballing level. It was never my business to get involved in the reasons why or the legal side of it.
“So from my point of view, for the club moving forward, it’s obviously a good thing.”
A CAS statement explaining their decision said that Chelsea were guilty of violating rules related to the international transfer and registration of minors, “but for a significantly smaller number of players”, concluding that they were only guilty of one third of the violations found by FIFA.
In addition, the breaches of other transfer rules “were found to be less serious than those attributed to Chelsea FC by FIFA”.
Chelsea later welcomed the news before describing FIFA’s approach as “deeply unsatisfactory, not least as FIFA chose to treat Chelsea entirely differently to Manchester City for reasons that make absolutely no sense to Chelsea”.
A 451-word statement issued on Twitter detailed how, according to the club, FIFA had got it badly wrong bringing the charges.
The club said it “respects the importance of the work undertaken by FIFA” concerning the protection of minors.
But it warned that if FIFA continued to impose “inconsistent and unequal sanctions” on clubs it would cast doubt on the confidence in the body’s ability to “appropriately regulate this important area”.
The initial ban was announced by football’s world governing body in February, but Chelsea had always denied wrongdoing.
It followed a FIFA probe into Chelsea’s signing of foreign under-18 players, including the club’s former forward Bertrand Traore, a Burkina Faso international who now plays for French Ligue 1 club Lyon.
AFP/File / Ben STANSALL Frank Lampard could now
see new signings arrive at Chelsea in the January window, but admitted
the club would need to be careful with their recruitement policy
Traore signed professional forms for Chelsea in 2013 at the age of 18 but was not registered until January the following year.
At first they appealed to FIFA who partially lifted the ban in April, although only for players under 16 who are not “international transfers and first registrations of foreign minor players”.
That left Chelsea still unable to sign players over 16 during the summer transfer window.
– ‘Important we get it right’ –
Chelsea had been eager to have the ban lifted at the time, or at least suspended pending an appeal, so they could be in a position to sign a replacement for Eden Hazard, who was sold to Real Madrid.
Nevertheless, in the absence of new recruits, Lampard has enjoyed success promoting several members of the club’s youth academy to the first team.
Centre-back Fikayo Tomori, midfielder Mason Mount and striker Tammy Abraham have all returned from loan spells to become regulars, their form leading to England call-ups. Abraham is Chelsea’s top scorer with 12 goals this season.
Young full-back Reece James has also broken into the first team, while USA winger Christian Pulisic remains the last new signing brought to the club after being signed from Borussia Dortmund for £58 million ($74 million) last January.
Chelsea are currently fourth in the Premier League and Lampard admitted the club would need to be careful with their recruitment policy.
“As we go forward of course if I feel there are positions we can strengthen then we will obviously look at that, as all big clubs do.
“That’s why people expected less of us this season, because lots of clubs around us and below us were spending £100 million and we didn’t have that chance, and we lost Eden Hazard and two number nines.
“Now the picture’s slightly changed and it’s important that we get it right moving forward.”