The transfers of Samuel Eto’o and Willian to Chelsea in 2013 form part of a Premier League investigation into potential financial breaches, a new report has revealed.
The duo arrived at Stamford Bridge a decade ago from the now defunct Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala – Eto’o on a free transfer and Willian in a transfer worth £30m.
A Premier League investigation into payments to secretive offshore companies while under the ownership of Roman Abramovich was first reported by The Times newspaper in August, weeks after Chelsea agreed to pay an £8.6m fine relating to incomplete accounting under the ownership of the Russian.
The Times‘ latest report suggests that financial records suggests payments were made to ‘Russian entities’ outside of the agreed transfer fees, with the issues uncovered during the due diligence process that eventually saw Todd Boehly’s Clearlake Capital consortium take control of the club.
The alleged payments to offshore companies are understood to have taken place between 2012 and 2019, years before Boehly’s involvement.
A Chelsea statement said of the matter: “These allegations pre-date the club’s current ownership. They concern entities that were allegedly controlled by the club’s former owner and do not relate to any individual who is presently at the club.
“Chelsea FC’s ownership group completed its purchase of the club on May 30, 2022. During a thorough due diligence process prior to completion of the purchase, the ownership group became aware of potentially incomplete financial reporting concerning historical transactions during the club’s previous ownership. Immediately following the completion of the purchase, the club proactively self-reported these matters to all applicable football regulators.
“In accordance with the club’s ownership group’s core principles of full compliance and transparency the club has proactively assisted the applicable regulators with their investigations and will continue to do so.”
If found guilty of any wrongdoing, Chelsea could face heavy sanctions from the Premier League, who operate outside of the statute of limitations imposed adhered to by UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body, even though the erroneous payments were made under a different regime. The punishments could range from a heavy points deduction, impacting the club’s bid to get back into Europe, or a substantial fine.