Why Chelsea Could ‘Reject’ Conference League Place After Manchester United’s FA Cup Victory

Why Chelsea Could ‘Reject’ Conference League Place After Manchester United’s FA Cup Victory

Martin Moses
updated at May 27, 2024 at 6:57 AM
In this article:
Chelsea logo
UEFA Europa Conference League logo
UEFA Europa League logo
UEFA Europa League
Manchester United logo
Manchester United
English Premier League logo
ENG Premier League
  • Chelsea's relegation to the Conference League will pose a financial challenge
  • They dropped down to the competition after Manchester United's FA Cup win
  • Sports Brief has looked at questions Chelsea will need answers to in Europe

PAY ATTENTION: Checkout Fixtures; Live Scores; Results and Tables section on Sports Brief and never miss out on the action ⚽️

Chelsea were one of the biggest losers of Manchester United's win over Manchester City in the FA Cup final on May 25. The Red Devils upset their rivals 2-1 at Wembley Stadium to finish off their season on a high.

The result had severe ramifications on who would represent England in European competitions next season, with Erik ten Hag's side nicking a UEFA Europa League spot despite finishing only eighth in the league.

Erik ten Hag, Manchester United, Chelsea, Conference League, Europa League
Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag, lifts the FA Cup trophy on May 25, 2024. Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista.
Source: Getty Images

Chelsea were, therefore, relegated to the Conference League, while Newcastle United missed out entirely.

The Blues have since confirmed their intention to participate in the third-tier competition, where their journey will start from the play-off stage in August.

"We will enter the tournament at the play-off round stage, where victory over a two-legged tie would secure a place in the league stage," part of the club statement read.

Chelsea's dilemma in Conference League

However, despite the statement, reports have suggested the West London side could reconsider their position in the tournament due to financial issues. Chelsea are walking on a tightrope due to Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR).

The PSR are a variation of the Financial Fair Play rules where Premier League clubs are allowed to make losses of only £105mil over three years. The loss is initially capped at £15mil but can be stretched to the said £105mil if the club owners are willing to cover the extra £90mil.

Everton and Nottingham Forest have paid a high price this season for flouting these rules. As reported previously by Sports Brief, Chelsea sold two of their hotels to a company affiliated with their owners in a bid to balance their books.

UEFA's rules on financial sustainability

But it gets interesting here; participating in Europe would put Chelsea under more scrutiny as the PSR rules for teams playing in the UEFA Competitions are different. UEFA's handbook on financial sustainability clubs are only allowed to incur losses of up to £68.5mil.

The decision-makers at the governing body intend to 'force clubs to live within their means' by rolling out more rules in subsequent seasons.

Here is Chelsea's concern: if staying on the good side of the Premier League because of the £105mil is hard, then the £68.5mil from UEFA will be much harder. As Football London reports, profits from real estate don't count in Europe and this means the Blues cannot sell any more hotels or other assets.

The other downside is that the financial benefits of playing in the Conference League are significantly lower compared to the Europa League and Champions League, which will not help Chelsea's cause either.

Has a club ever rejected a European competition?

Juventus were thrown out of the Conference League last season for breaching the FFP rules.

The Italian club had been docked 10 points in the league. They were fined and banned from playing in Europe. The Old Lady accepted the decision and never appealed.

How can Chelsea balance their books?

Having seemingly accepted their fate, the Blues could now fast-track the sale of some homegrown players like Conor Gallagher and Trevoh Chalobah to raise more funds.

Other EPL teams in Europe next season

Sports Brief also previously reported on England's representatives in Europe next season after the FA Cup final.

Champions League spots were settled in matchweek 37, with Man City joining Arsenal, Liverpool, and Aston Villa.

Manchester United will join Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League and Chelsea will join the Conference League.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)