Why Chelsea could decline UEFA Conference League place as fresh FFP problem emerges

Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali
-Credit: (Image: Mike Hewitt)

Chelsea will participate in the Europa Conference League for the first time in their history next season but they may be forced to decline their place in the competition.

Despite finishing sixth in the Premier League, the Blues dropped down to Europe's third-tier competition following Manchester United's FA Cup final upset win over Manchester City. The Red Devils join Tottenham in the Europa League meaning Chelsea will take on the likes of Real Betis, Besiktas, Trabzonspor and Ordabasy.

The west Londoners will have the chance to become the first-ever team to win all three of Europe's competitions. That is, unless they choose to decline the invitation.

Due to UEFA's strict financial sustainability regulations (FSR), the club could pull out to avoid breaching the rules. The rules allow clubs to have losses of up to €80m (£68.5m) for the 2024/25 monitoring period, which looks at a two-year period between 2022 and 2024.

That would mean Chelsea would only be able to lose £68.5million over the previous two years to stay within UEFA's regulations, instead of the £105million over three in England.

Unlike the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules (PSR), which allows losses of up to £105m, Chelsea have little wiggle room to comply with UEFA's. The club avoided a potential punishment by selling two hotels at Stamford Bridge to a sister company but real estate profits are excluded from UEFA's calculations.

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Last season Juventus faced a similar issue after qualifying for the Conference League, and they were ultimately forced to give up their place after falling foul of FFP rules. The decision was confirmed in late July of last year, some two months after the season had ended. Chelsea, incidentally, were also fined by Europe's governing body for 'submitting incomplete financial information'.

The Europa Conference League's prize money pot is significantly lower than the Champions League, meaning the financial perks of competing in the competition might not outweigh the difficulty of complying with the stricter rules. However, Chelsea are expected to go ahead with their participation in Europe next season as it stands.

Following Man United's win, a club statement read: "Chelsea will play in the 2024/25 UEFA Conference League after England’s European qualification spots were finalised following Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup final.

"Manchester United’s victory over Manchester City at Wembley means the Red Devils gain access to continental football via the route provided by the domestic trophy – in turn confirming the UEFA tournament that we will participate in.

"It will be the first time we have competed in the competition that was initially contested in the 2021/22 season."