FFP ‘swap deals’: How Chelsea, Villa, Everton, Newcastle are using PSR loophole before June 30

Will Ford
Maatsen, Calvert-Lewin, Minteh, Kellyman
Ian Maatsen, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yankuba Minteh and Omari Kellyman are in the 'player laundering' mix.

You may have noticed a rush of transfer activity from and between Chelsea, Everton, Aston Villa and Newcastle in the last few days. We can expect more in the next week or so, up until June 30, their de facto transfer deadline.

As with the rest of the Premier League, the four clubs need to submit their accounts by the end of the month and are all at risk of breaching PSR regulations – which allow losses of £105m over a three-year period – if they don’t sell some players. Rather neatly – in what has been considered by some to be ‘player laundering’ – they appear to greasing each other’s palms in a bid to avoid FFP sanctions.

Lewis Dobbin moved from Everton to Aston Villa while Tim Iroegbunam went the other way, both for around £9m. Omari Kellyman is set to join Chelsea from Villa for a whopping £19m despite being valued at less than £1m on the back of two very brief Premier League substitute appearances, after Unai Emery’s side helped the Blues out with a £37.5m deal for Ian Maatsen.

READ MORE: Every Premier League transfer completed in the summer of 2024

Talented Newcastle winger Yankuba Minteh had been heavily linked with Everton, his supposed preferred destination (under no duress whatsoever), after an impressive loan season with Feyenoord, and Newcastle were in talks over a move for Dominic Calvert-Lewin. That particular timely swap deal now appears to be off, with both players attracting interest from Italy. It doesn’t matter where they go, just that they do go and in the next week.

It’s a bit grim and definitely not subtle. All of the players to have moved or linked with moves would represent ‘pure profit’ to the selling clubs, who can record the fee in its entirety in this year’s accounts. The amount paid by the buying club is amortised (spread out) over the length of the contract, now limited to five years after Chelsea made a mockery of that PSR loophole.

The Blues aren’t alone in utilising this one though, and while the quartet of schemers aren’t breaking the rules by swapping academy graduates, the Premier League has said it will review every transfer this summer to check if they are being done at an arm’s length basis, and if not they’ll look into whether they’re being done at a fair market value. It surely won’t take much investigation.

Difficult though it is to put a value on such young talent – many questioned whether Cole Palmer was worth £40m last summer, for example – we would suggest there would be raised eyebrows in the Premier League headquarters over Chelsea paying around half that amount for someone they probably couldn’t have picked out of a line-up before the weekend.

Keep your eyes peeled for further inflated deals between the four conspirators before June 30. Don’t rule out £10m Chelsea bids for Everton Under-9s before the month is out.