Transfer to Chelsea: why Mudryk’s contract is eight and a half years

Status: 01/17/2023 8:53 p.m.

Michailo Mudryk has been given an unusually long contract at Chelsea. One of the reasons for this is the Financial Fair Play rules – such a contract term is hardly conceivable in the Bundesliga.

Chelsea reportedly transferred up to €100m to Shakhtar Donetsk for Mikhailo Mudryk. In addition to this sum, another detail should be noted: the duration of the contract of eight and a half years. As of now, Mudryk is level with Chelsea until the end of the 2030/31 season – which raises several questions.

Why are Chelsea giving such a long contract?

The background are the financial rules of UEFA. Even with UEFA’s new rules on ‘financial sustainability’ (formerly known as Financial Fair Play) spending is limited, there must be corresponding income. After a transition period from the 2025/26 season, a club’s squad costs are expected to be just 70% of a season’s revenue. The €100m would significantly reduce Chelsea’s current spending record.

This is exactly what the club want to avoid with the long-term contract. According to UEFA rules, clubs can deduct the costs of a transfer over the duration of the contract. The 100 million euros will therefore be spread over eight and a half years. The transfer only makes itself felt with around twelve million per season, which leaves Chelsea with room for maneuver in the further formation of the team.

Are such long contracts allowed?

Not really. In its transfer regulations, FIFA stipulates that a contract can last a maximum of five years. But she is an exception to this rule. Where national law permits, longer contracts may also be concluded. In the UK it is possible, so the Premier League rules say: “A contract between a club and a player can be of any duration.”

Chelsea took advantage of this opportunity several times during the winter transfer window: Benoit Badiashile came from AS Monaco and was given a seven-and-a-half-year contract, his transfer fee would have been €40m. Molde FK’s David Fofana has been signed for six and a half years. Chelsea also signed several new players for six or seven years this summer.

Stamford Bridge stadium in Chelsea

What happens if the player leaves before the end of the contract?

In this case, the transfer costs not yet amortized give rise to a “residual book value”, which is then payable immediately for current expenses. If there is income from a transfer of the player to another club, this must be deducted from the residual book value, resulting in a profit or loss.

Is it also possible to retain talent at a young age in the long term?

No, for players under the age of 18 there is a general limit of three years on the length of the possible contract. This has long been a source of conflict. Mid-sized clubs fear that big, financially strong clubs like Chelsea, Paris or Manchester City will not be able to buy big talent from them cheaply or even for free. This is why they repeatedly asked for longer terms.

However, it’s not just consultants making money from new contracts and changes who oppose longer terms for contracts with minors. A long-term contract can also be disadvantageous for young players themselves, if their value suddenly increases at the age of 18 or 19 and a previously concluded contract is significantly lower and extends over the long term.

Are such long-term contracts possible in the Bundesliga?

Basically yes, but in practice this is almost never the case. In accordance with FIFA regulations, the “Player License Regulations” of the German Football League (DFL) state: “The maximum duration of a contract should not exceed five years.” The word ‘should’ leaves a backdoor, which Bayer Leverkusen recently used. Young Belgian player Noah Mbamba has been given a five-and-a-half-year contract until 2028.

The fact that clubs in Germany almost never go beyond this is due to the German law on part-time and fixed-term contracts. This stipulates that an employment relationship of more than five years can only be terminated by the employee after five years with six months’ notice. The risk of serious injury or a major drop in form would be with an eight-and-a-half-year contract like Mudryk alone with the club – making such contracts unattractive in German football.

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