Chelsea insist they are on course to meet Uefa's Financial Fair Play requirements after reporting an annual profit of £1.4m for the year ending in June, a dramatic turnaround from the previous year's £67.7m loss.
It is the first time in Roman Abramovich's nine-year tenure that the club has declared a profit; it has been able to do so thanks to winning a first Champions League title, the prize the Russian billionaire coveted since he set foot in Stamford Bridge in 2003, and the fact that much of this summer's spending spree falls into next year's results. The club has also shed high-earners such as Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka from its wage bill.
Were Chelsea to make an early exit from the Champions League and with the cost of recruiting such players as Eden Hazard and Oscar – even though the fees will be spread over the length of their contracts – and then paying them, the club will face a sizeable task to repeat their slim profit next year.
"While we draw huge satisfaction from the achievements of the past 12 months we are more than ever focused on continuing the story of on-field success supported by improving financial performance off the pitch," said Bruce Buck, the club's chairman.
Chelsea, who have yet to release their accounts in full, claimed a £28.8m profit on transfers in 2011-12 and recorded record revenue. That figure of £255.7m is the fifth largest in Europe and takes them above Arsenal for the first time. Only Manchester United, with £320m, have a larger income in England. It is a rise of more than £30m on the previous year and is down to the transfer profit and the Champions League success, which earned the club £12m in TV monies alone. Chelsea also won the FA Cup this year.
Under Uefa's FFP rules, clubs may lose no more than £36m over the three seasons up to 2014-15. Chelsea believe the club is in a "strong position to meet them". Premier League clubs are set to discuss introducing FFP here as well with a number, led by United and Liverpool, believed to be in favour. It increases the pressure on clubs to balance books and Chelsea accept that, with their matchday revenue limited by the size of Stamford Bridge, they will have to be "commercially creative" to stand a chance of matching these figures.
Shirt sales is one area where the club has made up dramatic ground in recent years. Only Manchester United and the two Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, sell more; winning the Champions League should have a further positive impact. This summer's sponsorship deal with Gazprom, the giant Russian energy firm, will also come under next year's accounts.
This summer Chelsea spent £32m on Hazard, £25m on Oscar and £9m on Victor Moses plus other fees, all deals that will be taken into account next year; only Raul Meireles' £8m move to Fenerbahce brought funds in. During the 2011-12 financial year, Abramovich converted a £166.6m loan to the club into equity – a practice that has no bearing on the annual profit or loss – meaning the club is debt-free. Across Abramovich's time at the club losses total £631.5m.
Under Roman rule: Profit and loss
2011-12 Profit £1.4m
2010-11 Loss £67.7m
2009-10 Loss £70.9m
2008-09 Loss £44.4m
2007-08 Loss £65.7m
2006-07 Loss £74.8m
2005-06 Loss £80.2m
2004-05 Loss £140m
2003-04 Loss £87.8m
Made in Chelsea by Jose Mourinho
He may be the master of Merseyside but Brendan Rodgers' managerial career was made in Chelsea.
Rodgers, whose Liverpool face his old club on Sunday, credits Jose Mourinho as a major influence on his philosophy. "Jose played 4-3-3, or a 4-4-2 diamond, and wanted a coach to implement his methodology," Rodgers has said.