Chelsea yesterday registered their first victory of the new season when Fifa ordered their former striker Adrian Mutu to pay the club £13.68m in damages for breaching his contract after he tested positive for cocaine in 2004. It is the biggest fine ever handed down to a footballer and the Romanian has just 30 days to pay up or face further sanctions.
However it is understood he also has one final right to appeal the decision in a dispute that has rumbled on for almost four years since he was sacked by Chelsea. Last night, Mutu's lawyer Cristian Sarbu confirmed he would continue to contest the matter and it is likely the case will, once more, return to the Court of Arbitration in Sport.
However, given the body has already found against Mutu at an earlier stage of this protracted dispute, the best he can now hope for is a reduction in the compensation he is ordered to pay. Yesterday's figure, which was calculated by Fifa's Dispute Resolution Chamber, which can settle contractual disagreements between clubs and players, is based on the value of the remaining period of Mutu's contract at Stamford Bridge.
That is known as the so-called "book value" of a player and given Chelsea paid Parma £15.8m for Mutu in August 2003 – just 14 months before he failed a drugs test – then his transfer worth was high especially as he had signed a five-year deal.
After an unconvincing first season at Chelsea, Mutu fell out with the then manager Jose Mourinho. It was announced in October 2004 that he had failed a routine drugs test and was sacked by the club, fined £20,000 by the Football Association and banned from football for seven months. However it did not prevent the striker signing for Juventus on a free transfer in 2005 while Chelsea pursued their compensation claim.
The club first went to the Premier League, and CAS, which ruled in their favour but then the process became mired in Fifa's dithering as Chelsea demanded money from Mutu, 29, who now plays for Fiorentina where he has recently extended his contract. Indeed even yesterday, after Chelsea made the announcement of compensation, football's world governing body was unavailable for comment with numbers at their press office going unanswered.
Chelsea were understandable more bullish. "This is an important decision for football," the club said in a statement. "Not only did the DRC make us a very significant monetary award, the decision also recognised the damaging effect incidents involving drugs has on football and the responsibilities we all have in this area. Chelsea will now be following the process laid out in the DRC's decision to claim the money from Mutu."
Meanwhile Chelsea remain confident that their pursuit of Robinho will end successfully, especially as it is understood Real Madrid are close to signing a new striker. Chelsea also dismissed claims that the Brazilian is not for sale – pointing out they have been quoted a fee of £35.9m for the 24-year-old. Chelsea have offered £19.8m but are prepared to raise that to £25m, while Robinho is considering holding a press conference to demand a move.
Chelsea have put a stop – perhaps only temporarily – to Branislav Ivanovic's proposed move to Milan. The Serbian defender arrived at Chelsea for just under £10m in January but has yet to make a first-team appearance. He may still go out on loan.