The 15 FMV factors Premier League will judge before allowing Chelsea, Aston Villa and Everton transfers

Matt Stead
Chelsea's Ian Maatsen celebrates
Ian Maatsen is central to a controversial new transfer trend

Aston Villa, Chelsea and Everton have been accused of ‘player laundering’ to comply with PSR rules. Will the Premier League block Omari Kellyman’s move?


After the summer of Saudi in 2023, the summer of the ‘separate deal’ is upon us in 2024: two transformational disturbances on the transfer window which are open to controversy and exploitation.

There was a sense that some clubs utilised that Saudi money far more effectively than others – Chelsea sold three cast-offs in Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy and N’Golo Kante to the Middle East for £33m, while Manchester United made about £4m on Alex Telles – and there is a similar sentiment over some early deals being conducted this year.

Aston Villa have arranged a deal to sign Ian Maatsen for £37.5m, while selling academy prospect Omari Kellyman to Chelsea for £19m. Everton have already purchased Tim Iroegbunam from Aston Villa for £9m, the same sort of fee Villa will pay to bring in Lewis Dobbin from Goodison Park.

But each of those transfers are distinct; these are not part-exchanges or swap deals and thus those full figures can be included by the selling clubs on accounts for the 2023/24 season, while the buying clubs can amortise them to effectively reduce the cost.

If Villa signed Maatsen in a part-exchange deal for Kellyman and £18.5m – the difference between the two players’ fees – then Chelsea would have less pure profit to put on their books and Villa would have none, as Kellyman’s move was part of the Maatsen deal. This way, both clubs benefit.

The Premier League assesses every transaction between players and clubs for Fair Market Value – including those commercial deals Manchester City are taking legal action over – and their handbook gives a ‘non-exhaustive list’ of 18 ‘relevant factors’ an independent judge will consider before ratifying each deal.

Some of those factors are difficult to apply to the Maatsen, Kellyman, Dobbin and Iroegbunam transfers, such as bonus payments, image rights payments and sell-on fees. Other criteria is easy to examine in the cases of each.

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


Contract length
Maatsen and Kellyman will both sign six-year contracts, the latter with an option for another 12 months. Dobbin has a reported five-year deal. Iroegbunam’s terms are for three years.

The longer the contract, the better. No red flags here, aside from the Chelsea amortisation loophole which is pretty standard practice now.


Time remaining on contract prior to transfer
Maatsen has two years remaining on his Chelsea contract. Kellyman signed a ‘long-term extension’ of unknown length with Aston Villa in November. Dobbin is in the final year of his Everton deal. Iroegbunam had three years left at Villa.

Again, nothing out of the ordinary in any case. Only the Dobbin situation raises the slightest of eyebrows but £10m for a player with a year left on his contract is not particularly unusual anymore.


Maatsen is the oldest of the quartet at 22, with Kellyman the youngest at 18. Dobbin and Iroegbunam are 21 and 20 respectively. Another box ticked for each. If Everton were selling Ashley Young for £25m then there might be questions.


Maatsen is a left-back but can play further forward on that side. Kellyman is an attacking midfielder who can be used across the entire front line. Dobbin is predominantly a left-winger but has played centrally and on the right. Iroegbunam is a central midfielder, so while he lacks that same versatility he plays in a specialist, in-demand position which weighs in his favour.


Record and experience
Maatsen started in the most recent Champions League final
and was named in the tournament’s Team of the Season, has played in the Premier League and Bundesliga and is in the Dutch squad for the Euros but is yet to feature. It would not be difficult to argue that his fee is fair on that basis.

Kellyman has only made six senior career appearances but scored seven goals in 11 games for Villa’s U21s last season and is a regular at youth international level. Despite that lack of experience, there is ample precedent of similar deals – even one involving Chelsea signing a Villa player when they spent £20m on Carney Chukwuemeka in summer 2022 after he had played just 16 first-team games.

Dobbin has played 70 first-team games during his time at Everton and on loan with Derby, with a respectable England youth record up to the U19s.

Iroegbunam has played 12 Premier League games and five Europa Conference League matches, as well as a full season in the Championship on loan at QPR. He also won the U19 Euros with England in 2022, playing four of five fixtures, including the final.

It is difficult to see the separate deals between Villa and Everton throwing up too many problems on this front.


Nationality and GBE status
Maatsen is a Dutch international with Champions League experience who has already played 140 games for four English clubs; he comfortably fits the GBE criteria for eligibility to play in the English league.

Kellyman, Dobbin and Iroegbunam are all UK nationals born in England. No issues here.


Injury history
All four players have suffered injuries of various significance and length, but none have obvious recurring issues or any other indication of proneness to injury. Next.


The financial state and relative bargaining position of the clubs
This is the fun zone, and the part where Premier League rivals looking from the outside of these mutually beneficial deals might start raising their hand with a few legitimate queries.

Chelsea, Aston Villa and Everton were all named among the six clubs in danger of breaching PSR rules if they did not make a major sale by June 30. Villa proposed a change to those rules which would have increased the maximum loss threshold over a three-year period from £105m to £135m, but were outvoted two to 15 with three abstentions. It is unknown where Chelsea and Everton fell on that matter.

Everton were said to be likely to ‘back’ Manchester City in their recent legal case against the Premier League regarding spending restrictions, with Aston Villa known to be sympathetic to the champions’ cause.

But there is a difference between thinking some of the relevant transfer fees have been inflated in these cases to suit clubs in varying states of financial bother, and proving that there has been a deliberate exaggeration of numbers to help them basically cook the books and avoid sanctions.


The relevant transfer window
Atop the list of the 20 biggest signings of the 2024 summer transfer window thus far is a 17-year-old with six Brazil caps. Premier League clubs will spend millions again when the next accounting period comes into play from July and these fees will soon merge with the rest.


Any previous compensation fees paid
Maatsen and Dobbin were on the Chelsea and Everton books for some time so any previous compensation fees paid are pretty much irrelevant. But the two Villa sales are interesting here: they paid Derby £600,000 for Kellyman in March 2022 and slightly more for Iroegbunam from Coventry in July 2021. Those mark-ups are considerable.

Yet Villa will inevitably point to the value of other sales made through their academy. Cameron Archer cost Sheffield United £20m and  Chelsea paid the same fee for Chukwuemeka, while Aaron Ramsey (£12m) and Jaden Philogene (£6m) drew sizeable sums considering their relative inexperience.


Brand value and fanbase
The Premier League handbook refers to ‘social media following and other appropriate metrics’ here. Do Maatsen’s 627,000 Instagram followers legitimise his fee? Can Kellyman really claim to be worth £19m with 5,987 Twitter followers? Does anyone have Dobbin’s Bebo handy?


‘Scarcity within the market for players with similar characteristics’
Again, this is a little too vague to really nail any club for supposedly not paying fair market value. It seems unlikely that an Independent FMV Assessor would be able to identify hundreds of available Kellyman-adjacent players, or deduce that Dobbin’s skillset is interchangeable with that of forwards who could have been signed for £5m instead.


Level of interest or competition
Borussia Dortmund wanted to make Maatsen’s loan permanent, but only for around £25m after balking at his previous £35m release clause. Manchester City were supposedly in the mix too at one point. No other clubs have been mentioned with regards to recent interest in Kellyman or Dobbin. Ajax were linked with Iroegbunam.


‘Any urgent need for liquidity’ of the selling club
File this one alongside the ‘financial state and relative bargaining position of the clubs’ criteria.

The June 30 cut-off date to comply with PSR regulations for the 2023/24 season is crucial here. The ‘urgent need for liquidity’ in terms of incoming money through player sales by that deadline is obvious for clubs hoping to avoid the sort of sanctions which were handed down last campaign.

Chelsea will certainly be happy to log nearly £40m on their accounts, while Aston Villa won’t mind offsetting their three-year losses by almost £30m through pure profit made on two players who barely featured last season. Yet there is obviously nothing inherently illegal in selling players in June, even if the context of the deals makes things a little more murky.


Any urgent need to sign the player
The example given by the Premier League is ‘as a result of injury or lack of availability in a particular position’. In fairness, Chelsea did have loads of injuries last season so they have pretty much no choice but to sign Kellyman immediately.

👉 Premier League five-year net spend table UPDATED: Liverpool above Man City
👉 Every Premier League transfer completed in the summer of 2024