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November 7, 2009

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CAS grants Chelsea's request for a stay

CHELSEA was cleared to sign new players in the January transfer window yesterday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspended a ban imposed by world body FIFA.

The English Premier League leaders had asked for a stay until the result of an appeal was decided.

The court said that it had granted the request, with the sanctions suspended "until the CAS renders its final decision in this matter."

No date was given for the decision.

Chelsea was banned from registering any new players until January 2011 after being found guilty in September of inducing Gael Kakuta to break his contract with French club Racing Lens. The punishment was handed out following a contractual dispute involving the transfer of reserve team player Kakuta from Lens in 2007.

Midfielder Kakuta had been at Lens since he was eight, going through its schooling system. A France Under-19 international, he has been hampered by injury and made only five Chelsea youth team appearances last season and two for the reserves.

The West London club has slammed the FIFA ban as "extraordinarily arbitrary" and "totally disproportionate", and has promised to mount the strongest possible appeal.

In an unrelated development, Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said the club is aiming to win the Champions League twice in the next five years and may sell its stadium naming rights to help fund the attempt.

The Blues have never won European football's top title but reached the 2008 final and have lost in the semifinals four times.

Renaming Bridge

Gourlay said any renaming of Stamford Bridge in west London would include the current name because "this is a sensitive issue for our fans."

Meanwhile, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, whose form for club and country has been under close scrutiny this season, will miss the trip to Chelsea tomorrow amid growing fears over his fitness.

United manager Alex Ferguson, who marked his 23rd anniversary in charge of the club yesterday, said that experts have been unable to pinpoint the nature of a calf injury which has sidelined the defender for two weeks.

"We don't know exactly where the calf injury is coming from," Ferguson said. "Whether it is coming from the lower back, whether it is a nerve thing. But calf injuries are normally two to three weeks and he is showing no sign of recovering from that injury. We're looking at the whole situation, whether it is coming from the back or not, but in the meantime he is out. There is no improvement so obviously we are looking at something different."

Ferdinand, who turns 31 on Saturday, has had his form widely questioned after indifferent performances for United and Fabio Capello's England team so far this season.


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