Chelsea were last night considering an appeal against what they consider to be draconian punishments from Uefa – including a six-match Champions League ban for Didier Drogba – for the chaotic aftermath of last month's home game against Barcelona.
Club officials were especially shocked at the six-match ban for Drogba, with two of those games suspended, after his extraordinary post-match rant at the referee Tom Henning Ovrebo following Chelsea's Champions League semi-final elimination on 6 May. It means that the striker will only figure in two of the group stage games next season under their new manager Carlo Ancelotti.
The decision has once again left Chelsea at loggerheads with the European governing body and they now have a three-day period in which to lodge an appeal to Uefa. However, if any appeal was to be unsuccessful, they risk incurring an even more severe sentence.
Jose Bosingwa was banned for four games, the last one suspended for two years – the same probation terms as Drogba – which the club also feel is disproportionate to the offence. After Ovrebo turned down three Chelsea penalty appeals in the 1-1 draw with Barcelona, Bosingwa called the referee a "thief" in a post-match interview. He withdrew his comments and apologised the following day.
Chelsea believe that the prompt apologies by Drogba and Bosingwa should have ensured they were given more lenient sentences. They also believe that the €100,000 (£85,000) fine for the club was unfair. Uefa cited the "improper conduct of their [Chelsea] players and the throwing of missiles by their supporters". Chelsea maintain that their match-day stewards did their very best in both circumstances, as demonstrated in their video evidence.
As it stands, Chelsea will be without Drogba for the first four of their group games next season and any further disciplinary breaches would land him with an extra two-game ban. It sets the scene for another confrontation between Chelsea and Uefa, who have had an uneasy relationship since the referee Anders Frisk quit following Jose Mourinho's criticism of him after a Champions League game against Barcelona in 2005.
This case was decided by three members of Uefa's control and disciplinary panel: Austrian Dr Thomas Partl; Jacques Antenen, of Switzerland, and Rainer Koch from Germany who is president of the Bavarian FA. Their detailed legal report on the incidents that followed the game last month will be presented to Chelsea within the next few days and from then they have a three-day period in which to appeal.
Given the sensitive nature of their relationship with Uefa, the club realise that they are unlikely to have an appeal looked upon kindly by Uefa's appeals board. While these decisions are made by individuals who Uefa say are legally independent, it might be judged wiser to take the punishment and not risk anything worse. A Chelsea spokesman said last night: "We've received the Uefa verdict and we'll now take time to assess it in full and consider our response."