Blues free to bolster squad as ban is lifted
CHELSEA will be free to bolster their squad this summer after a transfer ban imposed by Fifa was lifted following an agreement between the Premier League club and French side Lens.
Chelsea were originally given a two-window ban after Lens complained that Chelsea had illegally induced teenage forward Gael Kakuta to breach his contract with them when he move to Stamford Bridge in 2007.
The terms of the agreement between the two clubs are confidential, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport said yesterday that it accepted the settlement and that the transfer ban had been lifted. Sources in France said yesterday that Chelsea had paid compensation of €3m.
Fifa found Chelsea guilty of illegally-inducing Kakuta to join them and were initially banned from making new signings until 2011. That ban was suspended, allowing the club to do business in the January transfer-window.
A statement from the CAS said that the original contract between RC Lens and Chelsea "was not valid".
"The Court of Arbitration for Sport has issued an award today ratifying the agreement reached by Chelsea FC, Racing Club de Lens and the French football player Gael Kakuta," CAS said in a statement.
"The CAS has noted that, in the agreement, the two clubs and the player have recognised that the contract between the player and RC Lens was not valid.
"Accordingly, the player could not have terminated it prematurely and without just cause and FC Chelsea cannot therefore be liable for inducing a breach of contract," it added. "As a consequence, in light of these new circumstances, the sanctions imposed upon Chelsea FC and the player by the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber had to be lifted."
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: "It was always our intention to work together with Lens to reach this end.
"In an act of good faith and with a view to the possibility of future collaboration with Lens, and without recognising any liability, Chelsea has agreed to pay compensation costs for the training given to the player while at Lens, as mandated by Fifa in its original ruling."
In the original Fifa judgment Chelsea were ordered to pay Lens compensation amounting to €130,000, while Kakuta was banned from playing in all matches for four months and ordered to pay €780,000 in compensation.
Along with the transfer embargo, these sanctions were suspended until CAS had conducted their review.
Chelsea's renewed ability to make signings may have an impact on players already at the club, who could now be sold to make way for newcomers.
The club's refusal to cave in to Joe Cole's wage demands has also been vindicated, for his negotiating position has been weakened considerably because his employers are now free to sign a potential replacement. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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