CHELSEA’S transfer ban was lifted yesterday after they were cleared of any wrongdoing over the transfer of Gael Kakuta.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found in Chelsea’s favour after FIFA had banned them from signing any new players until 2011 as punishment for allegedly inducing Kakuta to break his contract with Lens.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: “We are pleased to have come to an amicable resolution of the matter and that it has been ratified by CAS and recognised by FIFA.”
The embargo was suspended by CAS in November, enabling Chelsea to conduct business in the January transfer window, which closed on Monday.
As promised, manager Carlo Ancelotti opted against brining in reinforcements but the removal of the restriction enables the Italian to strengthen during the summer.
Buck added: “It was always our intention to work together with Lens to reach this end.
“Both clubs have strengthened their relationship as a result of resolving this case to everyone’s satisfaction.
“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.”
Kakuta joined Chelsea in 2007, prompting Lens to lodge a complaint with FIFA seeking compensation for breach of contract and asking for sporting sanctions against the Blues.
The sport’s world governing body found Chelsea guilty of inducing Kakuta to breach his contract and the Blues were banned from registering any new players for the next two transfer windows – effectively until January 2011. Chelsea were also 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.
CAS yesterday ratified the agreement reached by Chelsea, Lens and Kakuta and cleared the Barclays Premier League leaders of any wrongdoing.
A CAS statement read: “The CAS has noted that, in the agreement, the two clubs and the player have recognised that the contract between the player and Lens was not valid.
“Accordingly, the player could not have terminated it prematurely and without just cause and Chelsea cannot therefore be liable for inducing a breach of contract.
“As a consequence, in light of these new circumstances, the sanctions imposed upon Chelsea and the player by the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber had to be lifted.
“In accordance with the parties’ request, the entire proceedings, including the arbitral award and the agreement shall remain confidential.”
Meanwhile Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has refused to rule Arsenal out of the Barclays Premier League title race ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Stamford Bridge.
The Gunners trail leaders Chelsea by six points with last weekend’s 3-1 rout by Manchester United appearing to bring their pursuit of the crown to a demoralising halt.
Refusing to rule themselves out of contention, Arsenal’s players have claimed victory over their London rivals will thrust them back into the reckoning.
And Anelka agrees that the landscape will shift if Chelsea drop more points, as happened in the 1-1 midweek draw with Hull.
“Anything is possible in football, things can change very quickly,” he said.
“If we lose one game and draw one game and Arsenal win two games, then we are back to how it was before.
“We have to just stay positive and try to win every game, which is obviously what we are hoping to do.”
Chelsea’s hopes of victory over the Gunners were boosted yesterday after Arsenal striker Eduardo was ruled out of Sunday’s clash.
The Croatia marksman has failed to recover from the hamstring injury he sustained in the goalless draw with Aston Villa last week.
Midfielder Abou Diaby could return from the calf problem that has kept him sidelined since mid January as the Gunners attempt to nudge their title challenge back on track.
“Diaby is not yet back in normal training,” Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said.
“He progresses very well but we will still have to wait until Saturday. He is a maybe. Eduardo is already ruled out.
“Theo Walcott is back and available so Diaby is the only question mark we have. All the others are longer term injuries.”
Wenger confirmed that Robin van Persie is not expected to recover from his foot injury until April after a report had stated the Dutchman might be available by mid March. “For Robin, the rehabilitation is going well but anything before April would be a little bit premature,” Wenger said.
Meanwhile Chelsea defender John Terry is set to face Fabio Capello today in a meeting that will determine whether he remains England captain.
Terry’s position within Capello’s squad has been the subject of intense scrutiny since a gagging order that prevented details being reported of an alleged affair with the former girlfriend of Wayne Bridge was lifted last Friday.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved