Chelsea have been given the green light for a massive January spending spree – after sport’s ultimate court cut their transfer ban.
Fifa banned the Blues from making any signings for two windows in February.
But now the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that Fifa punished Chelsea too severely and that a one window ban – served this summer – was sufficient.
That clears the way for Lampard to freshen up his squad in the winter window, although Uefa rules mean he can only register three new players for the knock-out stages of European competition.
The initial Fifa punishment followed a lengthy probe into the club’s policies on signing overseas youth players.
Chelsea were stunned when the ban was imposed and furious when it emerged their attempts to have the ban put on hold pending their initial appeal to Fifa had been rebuffed.
But with Lampard coming in and given the mandate to promote the cream of the crop from the club’s Cobham academy, the Stamford Bridge outfit decided to serve the first part of the ban this summer rather than ask CAS to delay the punishment.
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Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James have justified Lampard’s faith with three of them playing in England’s autumn Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Despite that, Chelsea remained determined to fight to get the ban either cut or even quashed altogether, believing that Fifa had wrongly penalised them too severely with what club insiders felt was a scattergun and unfair process.
The appeal was eventually heard by the Lausanne-based CAS last month.
And today the Court ruled that the one window ban Chelsea served this summer was a sufficient punishment.
Christmas come early
CAS arbitrator, senior Italian lawyer Professor Massimo Coccia, also halved the fine Fifa had given Chelsea, now down to £231,000 from £462,000.
The news will be a massive boost for Lampard and Chelsea as they head into the crammed December fixtures schedule.
Chelsea have made an excellent start to the new campaign, with the youngsters to the fore.
Abraham has already scored 11 Prem goals, with Mount – who like Tomori made his England bow under Gareth Southgate – netting five times including the midweek winner over Aston Villa.
But senior figures at the Bridge recognise that the sheer volume of games in the coming weeks could take their toll on a young squad.
Lampard is likely to prioritise recruitment at left-back, where he has recently been using skipper Cesar Azpilicueta amid concerns over both Marcos Alonso and Emerson.
Leicester ace Ben Chilwell is their No1 target but the Blues could move for Porto’s Alex Telles or Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico.
Olivier Giroud’s limited display in Abraham’s absence in the shock defeat by West Ham on Saturday and the lack of conviction shown by Michy Batshuayi suggests Chelsea could use the January window to beef up their attacking options.
Both Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and RB Leipzig’s German star Timo Werner have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.
And 30-something wide men Willian and Pedro could also be used in bargaining chips for January deals, with Chelsea among the clubs interested in prising England winger Jadon Sancho out of Borussia Dortmund.
Chelsea were initially found guilty of “at least 29 breaches” of regulations after more than 100 cases were investigated.
Fifa then released documents that showed a total of 150 breaches involving 71 players.
The vast majority of those, however, were described as “technical” offences, relating to short-term trials for potential players and not signings, with Chelsea convinced Fifa were needlessly targeting them over minor offences that would have normally been completely ignored.
Confirmation that Chelsea’s appeal had been “partially upheld” came in a brief written statement which gave no details about the Court’s reasoning.
Full written reasons are expected in the next month but the decision gives Chelsea and Lampard clarity and the opportunity to tie down potential targets with nearly four weeks before the transfer window opens.