Chelsea will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after losing an appeal against a two-window transfer ban.
The Blues were found guilty of having breached FIFA regulations regarding the signings of 29 minors.
They were initially slapped with the year-long ban, meaning the west London club would be unable to sign players in the summer transfer window or next January.
As well as the ban, they were charged approximately £460,000 for the breach.
And against their initial appeal the decision was upheld, leaving question marks over the immediate futures of the players at Stamford Bridge.
But the club insisted they were ‘very disappointed’ in the decision not to overturn the ban.
A Chelsea statement read: “The club notes that the FIFA appeal committee has decided to partially uphold the appeal lodged by Chelsea FC against the decision of the FIFA disciplinary committee.
“However, the club is very disappointed that the transfer ban of two consecutive registration periods was not overturned.
“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA appeal committee. It acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
A FIFA statement had previously read: “The FIFA Appeal Committee has decided to partially uphold the appeal lodged by Chelsea FC against the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to sanction the club with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods.
“This ban applied to the club as a whole – with the exception of the women’s and futsal teams – and did not prevent the release of players.
“With respect to all men’s teams, the ban on registering new players, both nationally and internationally for two registration periods, has been confirmed by the FIFA Appeal Committee, with the following exception:
“The FIFA Appeal Committee believes that Chelsea’s wrongdoing consisted in not respecting the prohibition from internationally transferring or registering for the first time foreign minor players. In the committee´s opinion, imposing a ban on registering each and every minor would not be proportionate to the offence committed.”
And Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has cast doubt over the Blues’ ability to compete at the top-end of the Premier League with the ban imposed.
The Italian has endured a turbulent first season at Stamford Bridge, but did manage to secure a top four spot for his side.
But he insists that is the best it could get for Chelsea fans if the ban stands.
“It’s very difficult to cover the gap at the moment; we need to work, probably we need to do something from the market,” said Sarri.
“So it’s not easy, because the level of the top two is very, very high. As we can see in Europe so it’s not easy.
“Of course we have to work and we have to try. In my opinion we can reduce the gap.
“I don’t believe when you buy 10 players, I think that we have to buy only one, two players.
“Otherwise it’s very difficult to improve immediately. I think we are a very good team, so we need only one, two players, no more.”
Cross-border transfers of players aged under 18 are banned unless there are specific, non-football reasons for the player moving to the relevant country.
FIFA initially investigated more than 100 cases involving Chelsea, going back several years, but only charged the Blues with 92 breaches of article 19 – the rule prohibiting the registration of minors – and other charges related to the club having third-party influence over other club’s players.
Chelsea successfully defended themselves in 63 of these cases at a disciplinary committee but were found guilty of 29 illegal transfers.
The Stamford Bridge outfit were given 90 days to “regularise the situation of the minor players concerned” and the Football Association was also fined £390,000 for letting Chelsea register these players.
La Liga clubs Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all been sanctioned for similar offences in the past.
Additional reporting by PA.
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