Chelsea have been given a two transfer window ban by FIFA
for breaching the rules around the transfer of minors — and it could see Eden Hazard stay at Stamford Bridge.
The west London club have been found to have breached article 19 of FIFA's regulations with regards to the transfer of 29 minor players and article 18 regarding two further minors.
They have now been banned from registering new players for the next two transfer windows — the coming summer window and next January. But Sportsmail understands they have been prepared for this eventuality for a while.
They are likely to appeal to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That means they will almost certainly be able to get the ban pushed back until after the summer window, in order to do any key business.
They have also been fined 600,000 Swiss Francs (£460,314). The FA have been found to have breached the rules in connection with minors too and have been fined 510,000 Swiss Francs (£391,260) — they have announced they will be appealing that decision.
Chelsea will now be desperate to keep hold of Hazard despite the serious interest from Real Madrid. The Belgian is a long-term target for Real but with Chelsea limited when it comes to signing replacements, he may have to stay.
Callum Hudson-Odoi may also struggle to move to Bayern Munich, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek could have to stay at Stamford Bridge.
The signing of Bertrand Traore in 2014 sparked the investigation into their business. This took place over three years, from 2015.
They are thought to have signed Traore before his 18th birthday, and have provided misleading information as to when he was signed.
Chelsea paid his mother £155,000 in 2011 to take a first refusal option on him and then £13,000 to the club chaired by his mother, AJE Bobo-Dioulasso.
Traore was sold to French side Lyon in June 2017 for £8.8million, having played a total of 16 games for Chelsea.
A FIFA statement read: 'The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the English club Chelsea FC and The Football Association for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.
WHO IS BERTRAND TRAORE?
Bertrand Traore is a 23-year-old winger who plays for Lyon in the French top flight.
Chelsea signed officially as an 18-year-old in January 2014. It had been reported previously that he had joined the academy but Chelsea insisted that was not the case in January 2012.
He played a pre-season friendly as a trialist in July 2013 against Singha All Stars.
After signing officially he moved to Vitesse on loan. Traore spent a period in the first-team at Chelsea in 2015-16.
He then went out on loan again, to Ajax, reaching the Europa League final. That season impressed Lyon, who paid £8.8million to sign him in July 2017.
Chelsea will receive 15 per cent of the profit on any transfer fee for Traore. They also hold first refusal on him.
'Chelsea was found to have breached art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of twenty-nine (29) minor players and to have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players.
'The club also breached art. 18bis of the Regulations in connection with two agreements it concluded concerning minors and which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.
'The Disciplinary Committee sanctioned Chelsea with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two (2) complete and consecutive registration periods.
'This ban applies to the club as a whole - with the exception of the women's and futsal teams - and does not prevent the release of players. Additionally, the club was fined CHF 600,000 and given a period of 90 days to regularise the situation of the minor players concerned.
'The Football Association was also found to have breached the rules in connection with minors.
'It was fined CHF 510,000 and given a period of six months to address the situation concerning the international transfer and first registration of minors in football.
'The protection of minors is a key element in FIFA's overall regulatory framework relating to the transfer of players and effective enforcement of these rules is paramount, as also confirmed on various occasions by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
'The decisions issued by the Disciplinary Committee were notified today and can be contested before the FIFA Appeal Committee.'
An FA spokesperson revealed they would be appealing FIFA's decision to fine them: 'The FA notes the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee published today. The FA has cooperated fully with FIFA's investigations, although we have raised some concerns with FIFA regarding its disciplinary processes.
'The FA intends to appeal the decision. We will however continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.
'As this is an ongoing legal process it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.'