Chelsea boosted by first profit in Abramovich era

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the EPL club.

Story highlights

  • Chelsea announces profit of $2.2 million for the period ending June 30, 2012
  • It is the first time the English club has been in black since Roman Abramovich took over
  • Russian has bankrolled Chelsea in recent years but new rules threaten to curb this
  • Club says it now has the fifth largest turnover of any team in Europe

Chelsea's onfield successes this year have led to the European soccer champions' first financial profit during the nine-year reign of owner Roman Abramovich.

The Russian billionaire has bankrolled the English Premier League club since buying it for a nominal fee in 2003, posting big losses every year since then as he has sanctioned spending sprees to sign some of the sport's biggest players.

Last year ended in a loss of £67.7 million ($108 million) but the figures up to June 30, 2012 reveal a profit of £1.4 million ($2.2 million).

Chelsea also announced on Friday that it had made a record turnover of £255.7 million ($407 million) -- which it said is the fifth largest of any European club.

That was a boost of £33 million ($52 million) from last year, driven by the club's first UEFA Champions League title and a profit on player sales of £28.8 million ($46 million).

The latter figure came despite offloading players such as Didier Droga, Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou on free transfers while spending big on Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku in that period.

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Battle of the Russian billionaires


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Didier Drogba welcomed to China
Didier Drogba welcomed to China


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In comparison, Premier League rival Arsenal -- which has a more prudent transfer policy -- made a profit of £30.6 million ($48 million) on turnover of £243 million ($386 million) in figures released in September.

Another key element in Chelsea's finances is that £166.6 million ($265 million) of intergroup debt was capitalized into equity -- effectively personal loans to the club written off by Abramovich -- to leave the club debt free.

Chelsea is one of the clubs under the financial spotlight following the implementation of UEFA's new financial fairplay rules, which require teams to be self sufficient and limit the amount that benefactors such as Abramovich can spend with no expectation of return.

If they don't meet these targets, which are being phased in over a number of years, then clubs face expulsion from top European competitions.

"The big challenge is always to have a successful team on the field that wins trophies and to make a profit at the same time," said Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay.

"The objectives have been set across the whole business, from the Academy to Under-21s and all the way through to the first team.

"Our club philosophy is built on success. We had that success on the field this year, as we were the first London team to win the UEFA Champions League, and we enjoyed it off the field as well and this helps us inject financial investment into the team."

Chelsea has also sought to boost its income streams, signing a three-year global energy deal with Russian corporation Gazprom in July while also taking full control of its digital media operations.

"We're in favor of Financial Fair Play," manager Roberto di Matteo told reporters on Friday ahead of this weekend's home clash with Liverpool.

"We're doing everything in our power to comply with the new rules, and this is great news for the club.

"For the first time, we've been able to achieve a profit -- also thanks to the success on field, but off field as well, with new sponsor deals and also the transfer market.

"Going forward, I think that puts Chelsea in a strong position to remain competitive at domestic level but also international level."

It has been a mixed season so far for Chelsea, with impressive onfield performances marred by racism controversies.

Captain John Terry has just completed a four-match ban for abusing a black opponent a year ago, while the club has lodged a complaint against EPL referee Mark Clattenburg over alleged racist remarks made to Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel.

A Chelsea fan has also been arrested for making an alleged monkey gesture towards a Manchester United player during last week's English League Cup match at Stamford Bridge.