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Mutu’s Multi-Million Dollar Question


Sacked former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu is on the verge of bankruptcy and retirement from football after the well-documented verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The disgraced darling of Romanian football, currently plying his trade at Serie A club Fiorentina, has been ordered to pay $23.7 million (£14.7 million) to the West London club for breach of contract after testing positive for cocaine use in 2004.

The whole case, from Chelsea’s original decision to sack the player to the recent verdict, is scornful.

Yes, Adrian Mutu was in breach of his contract and broke the law at the same time, but the compensation bill may ruin this highly-talented man’s life.

The prolific-striker did live a chequered lifestyle prior to the positive drugs test. In the twelve month period leading up to it, his marriage came to an acrimonious end and he lost the subsequent custody battle for his son.

He was later involved in a sex scandal with a Romanian porn star and then became embroiled in a car chase with police that resulted in a driving ban.

In a revealing interview with Sky, Mutu cited his fame and naivety for falling into the trap of cocaine abuse while living in the bright city lights of London.

The incidents that occurred in that same year would also bear a hugely demoralising affect on any person – let alone an incredibly famous footballer in his mid-twenties.

I don’t condone his actions, but I don’t condone those of his employer either.

It is unknown to the public whether Chelsea Football Club offered Mutu any source of rehabilitation prior to his sacking. It is also yet to be established if the player responded to the test results in a manner that would suggest he would take up such an offer.

But, for a club owned by a multi-billionaire to vindictively pursue a man that has since turned his life around and to announce the result as ‘a very significant result for football’ is most despicable.

The Serie A hitman has scored 47 goals in 77 appearances for Fiorentina, following a stint at a scandal-hit Juventus, and has proved a model professional since arriving at the Viola in 2006.

Chelsea are basing their claim on the amount they believe the club would have received if they were able to sell the player. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has backed this up, stating that the $23.7 million (£14.7 million) relates to the full residual value of his transfer fee.

Had the club not sacked the striker, despite his subsequent seven month ban from football, they would have been able to sell a player of his undoubted quality on, in a move that would have averted this five-year-long battle.

Having seen two appeals already knocked back by the CAS, Adrian Mutu will now have to ask the question again and make a further appeal against the decision at a higher court.

I just hope that the full and final outcome of this reprehensible saga is a just one.

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  1. Me, myself and I

    September 14, 2009 at 10:09 am

    IMO, in a civil court only the contract will count, not what Chelsea of Mutu are saying/claiming.

    Every reasonably well set up contract sets up obligations for each signing party, plus compensations/damage to be paid in case one of the parties doesn’t do its job.

    Usually, like in any commercial contract, one party has to pay compensation/damage proportional to what it stands to earn. For instance, when two companies make a contract for a project, delivering the project late is taxed as a percentage of the project’s value per day or week or month.

    So probably there are clauses in Mutu’s contract regarding compensation for failing to fulfill his contract, as percentages of the salary he was going to earn – possibly the whole sallary and then some. But it’s unlikely that there are clauses in the contract relating what he owes the club in case of breach of contract to the transfer fee. In which case, IMO, there’s no chance Chelsea will be able to justify asking for the whole transfer fee in a civil court. After all, they were as responsible when they signed the contract as Mutu was when he signed it. It is not that Mutu didn’t have an influence on this fee, it is that it is highly unusual and unlikely that a contract contains clauses that make you pay compensation for fees you can’t influence and which you don’t at all receive. In commercial contracts between companies, when there is a risk which you, as a supplier, cannot take, but the customer doesn’t want to carry, an insurance company is involved, the contract’s value is increased by the insurance fees, and the insurance company gets some controlling authority in the project. Which I doubt was the case in Mutu’s contract with Chelsea.

    One other thing that makes me believe Mutu has quite a chance in a civil court is that the CAS has lately issued quite some funny rulings, which were appealed and then overturned. So it is possible that they ruled not based on hard facts (i.e. the contract), but on hot air issued by either Chelsea or Mutu, as they did in previous cases.

    However, afaik nobody has seen the contract yet, so all we can do is make assumptions. Should the contact say that Mutu has to pay back the transfer fee in case of breach of contract, he’s screwed, whether any of us likes it or not, and in spite of his spectacular recovery from drug use.

  2. usf_fan1

    September 2, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Every appeal has only made Mutu’s situation worse….

  3. Mark Carter

    September 2, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Rob Banks – I guess we will have to agree to disagree then!

    However, the court’s statement just compounds my reasons for taking such a dislike to the case brought against him.

    We shall see what the Swiss Federal Court make of the matter in due course.

  4. rob banks

    September 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    “he is paying back an amount that has been calculated by the amount the club paid for him, which he had no influence over.”

    It doesn’t really matter whether he had influence over it. What he did have influence over was upholding his end of the contract, which he did not do. The innocent party (Chelsea) relied on his promised performance, and incurred costs in doing so. Normally these costs are be amortised over the course of the contract, but Mutu’s breach robbed Chelsea of the ability to do that, and that loss was forseeable even if the extent of the loss wasn’t.

    to quote the court: “…the fact that the Player was not party to the Transfer Contract and had therefore not determined the amount of the transfer fee, or the other expenses incurred by the Club in connection with the acquisition of the Player (on which compensation is calculated), is entirely irrelevant.”

  5. Mark Carter

    September 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Rob Banks- As I understand it, Chelsea sued Mutu for breach of contract in order to regain the the transfer value. Treating him, like any business would, as an asset.

    They had to write off that asset upon sacking the player – the value that they wrote off was to the amount of the striker’s transfer value (which would have obviously been based on the price they paid for him when he arrived from Parma).

    In Mutu’s appeal he claimed that the majority of the compensation bill he is facing is based on a value that he has no control over.

    Which is a valid point – he is paying back an amount that has been calculated by the amount the club paid for him, which he had no influence over.

    And as you will remember Chelsea, at the time, were paying ‘over the odds’ for players due to their riches.

  6. rob banks

    September 2, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    mark carter – that is not how chelsea began their “claim”. their claim was compensation for mutu’s unilateral, without-cause breach of his employment contract. the number the CAS settled on for damages is the sum of the non-amortised portion of the transfer fee paid to acquire mutu (the largest portion), the non-amortised portion of the fee paid to his agent, non-amortised portion of mutu’s sign-on fee, and several other fees relating to Chelsea’s acquisition costs. The loss of his transfer value has nothing to do with it, it’s compensation for the money they spent acquiring him.

    Chelsea could have chosen not to sack him and tried to sell him to another club. The fee they received for him would only go towards paying setting-off the non-amortised portion of the transfer fee paid to acquire him.

  7. usf_fan1

    September 2, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Tyler Tyler Tyler….Can we expect a blog post on this over at the biglead? Come on bro, the guy cost upwards of 30million Euros in a massive transfer, as soon as he pops for coke the transfer fee paid is worthless, and he also served a 7 month ban to boot. On top of all that his resale value it shot. You are always responsible for your own actions while under contract, this was 100% a self inflicted situation. Chelsea is well within there rights to recoup there money….As harsh as it may seem.

  8. Mark Carter

    September 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Rob Banks – Chelsea began their claim citing that the actions of Adrian Mutu have forced them to write off the loss of his transfer VALUE.

    The CAS have ruled that Mutu was in breach of contract and therefore responsible for the transfer value Chelsea wrote off when they sacked him.

    The court then set the compensation fee at 17 million euros ($23.7 million, £14.7 million).

    I am not going to pretend to be a merited member of the Bar Council, this is how I have read the rulings made.

    Bouldsoul – I have nothing against Chelsea as a football club. I, as many do, believe that the ruling is ridiculous and it is Chelsea that set the wheels in motion.

    Harry – I’m not so sure it would be as simple as “if he had just paid the £9.6 million that he was ordered to pay back in 2008.” That sum would still have financially crippled the man.

    Yes, footballers earn a great deal of money, but to pay £9.6 million for making a mistake (or even two or three) is very harsh indeed.

    • Mark Carter

      September 2, 2009 at 1:05 pm

      Apologies * boldsoul.

    • oliver

      September 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      What is an appropriate punishment?

  9. tyduffy

    September 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    What is the club supposed to do if they know a player is using drugs but won’t admit it? Wait for a FA or UEFA sanctioned drug test?

    He obviously had a serious drug problem, which now he seems to have recovered from.

    To ruin his life now, because Chelsea decided to sack him and not recover their investment is ludicrous.

    • oliver

      September 2, 2009 at 1:05 pm

      So you’re saying Chelsea should have just written off the money they paid in a transfer/agent fees and wages? Just put it down to experience and moved on? When they sacked him, he didn’t admit to a problem and it was unknown whether he would ever turn things around.

  10. Harry

    September 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    morally bankrupt! man i wish i had written that first time around.

  11. Harry

    September 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    i don’t blame the club, they are well within their rights. plus if he had just paid the £9.6 million (€12 million) that he was ordered to pay back in 2008 he would have saved himself €5 million.

    sex scandal with pornstar? family leaving him? clearly this man has terrible morals.

  12. boldsoul

    September 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    More anti chelsea propaganda. Thanks for nothing….

  13. oliver

    September 2, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    There was an interview with Jose Mourinho where he spoke about this… it probably dated from the time of the sacking but I don’t remember exactly. He said that the club received an anonymous tip that Mutu had a problem. They went to him and he flatly denied it.

    At the same time there were requests for him to go on loan but Chelsea wanted to keep him.

    A couple of months later, it was apparent that he did indeed have a severe problem and the club ordered him to take a drug test. He failed it, again flatly denied he had a problem, and claimed a bad test procedure. Chelsea said that if he acknowledged an addiction they could help him but he continued to deny everything. At that point, they sacked him

    He only sought help after he could deny it no longer.

    I strongly believe that the outcome of this whole saga would have been completely different if he’d have admitted his usage from the beginning, but his lies and denial affected everything.

    What is the club supposed to do if they know a player is using drugs but won’t admit it? Wait for a FA or UEFA sanctioned drug test?

  14. rob banks

    September 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

    This is one of the most poorly researched articles I have ever read. Have you even read any of the CAS decisions?

    “Chelsea are basing their claim on the amount they believe the club would have received if they were able to sell the player.” This is completely false. Chelsea is seeking compensation from a party which (unilaterally and unjustifiably) breached a contract with them. The amount of compensation has nothing to do with what Chelsea thinks they could have got if they sold him, it’s based on the costs of acquiring him in the first place and what they actually paid him and his agents. It has nothing to do with “the amount they believe the club would have received if they were able to sell the player”. I will also point out that by sacking Mutu right away Chelsea was mitigating the damages it had already suffered and thus lowering the compensation due to them.

    This is determined by English law (which Mutu agreed to use for disputes when he signed his contract). It has nothing to do with Chelsea “vindictively pursuing” a man.

  15. Christopher

    September 2, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Oh please.. if this had been some normal man on the street that got imbroiled in this kind of drug abuse scandal do you think people would be clamoring over themselves to defend subsequent treatment as unfair? It’s a rare thing for someone of any fame to receive even the smallest amount of appropriate punishment… he deserved whatever he gets. He made his choices in life, envitably you have to pay for those choices… is it fair? Of course not… it shouldn’t be.

  16. Phil McThomas

    September 2, 2009 at 9:04 am

    The rotten thing here is how the player has become responsible for the value of his transfer fee, which he had no part in setting.

    I always try and relate these thing back to a work-place situation that more of us might be able to relate to. Imagine you’re running a project for your company, developing a new widget or something. Your company is paying you $1 MILLION a year to be the head man. All the pressure is on your sholders.

    For some reason you crack under the pressure, start doing drugs, and the project is a complete wash-out. Needless to say, you’re sacked.

    Would you expect to be liable for the $20 million that the company invested into the project? After all, all the R&D and marketing and legal etc etc is now completely wasted and it’s all your fault.

    Bear in mind you never stood to make $20 million.

    I think common sense tells you that it was the company that decided to risk $20 million, and it was the company that stood to benefit the most if things went well. Therefore, it’s the company that should sholder the risk of losing the $20 million.

    As for personal responsibility, I think being banned from the game for a period is penalty enough. If Mutu had been banned for a year, that would have been a hit of say $2 million – surely penalty enough for a crime where he could only really hurt himself.

    • Huh

      September 2, 2009 at 1:06 pm

      But they never paid £20 odd million for there employee!

  17. YourMom

    September 2, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Mutu is getting what he deserves. He devalued his contract (and himself) and therefore owes Chelsea compensation. All this talk of rehabilitation is rubbish. Once he pays his fine, he will have made restitution and will be clear of this issue.


    September 2, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Perhaps it’s a little vindictive to destory a player such as this, but on the hand it could set an important precendent for future players who may threaten to go off the rails – especially the players who respect money over the love of the game.

  19. Huh

    September 2, 2009 at 5:54 am

    You can not put any blame on Chelsea after all they are a business, as most football teams in the world are now. You can put it on Mutu though as he did the drugs and the partying. They paid a lot of money for him and rightly should receive compensation after his continued behaviour. They will have offered all types of help before making the decision to sack him, why wouldn’t they as I said before its a lot of money to lose! Poor old Champaign Mutu can’t afford the champers any more what a shame. He lived a life many of us could never even dream of and blew it all. If he was a stock broker you wouldn’t careless. Remember its ALL HIS OWN DOING.

  20. Sabbir Ahmed

    September 2, 2009 at 2:10 am

    The Guardian’s weekly podcast had a similar piece on Mutu this week. For me I think he should have taken the option to play somewhere in the Arab countries to keep his bank balance rolling. Bad ending to a great prospect if asked me.

  21. Tony

    September 2, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Thank you for bringing attention to this. I am not a Viola fan, Chelsea hater or fan of Mutu but I’ve always thought how terrible Chelsea is on this. He was no saint but it is commendable how he turned his life around and this judgement is and has always been WAY to severe. Shame on Chelsea.

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