HomeNFLSBV Vitesse Arnhem relegated after largest points deduction in Dutch football history

SBV Vitesse Arnhem relegated after largest points deduction in Dutch football history


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One of the defining features of Chelsea Football Club in the previous decade, the 2010s, had been our close relationship with SBV Vitesse Arnhem in the Dutch first division. (We had a whole section dedicated to it!)

Before multi-clubs were really a thing, we had enjoyed a special bond with the Eredivisie side, which mostly manifested itself in dozens of loanees getting sent there — including future stalwarts like Nemanja Matić, Dominic Solanke, and Mason Mount — but also (possibly? probably?) some financial shenanigans behind the scenes involving Roman Abramovich and some of his compadres.

However, just as focus has shifted away from the Loan Army in recent years — thanks in part to new FIFA regulations and limits on foreign loans — our relationship with Vitesse had waned. The last of our 29 players to cross The Channel was Armando Broja in 2020-21. And while their technical director had maintained at the time that the partnership was not dead, there’s been no sign of life in it ever since.

Photo by Peter Lous/Soccrates/Getty Images

And unfortunately for Vitesse, things have gotten markedly worse since. They finished fourth in 2021, but have been sliding down the table since (sixth in 2022, tenth in 2023), and were rock bottom of the league before getting hit with an 18-point deduction by the Dutch FA (KNVB) this week. They were already heading down, but the massive penalty, the biggest in league history and one that leaves them with negative-1 points, has confirmed that for good.

Vitesse are not appealing. In fact, they continue to face a fight for legal status. So what is going on over there?

Reports in England, chiefly from The Guardian, have emphasized (their own investigations over) the potential involvement of Roman Abramovich in the whole mess, but that’s actually a footnote in all this, as statements from both the KNVB and Vitesse make clear. Vitesse had failed to meet licensing requirements and financial reporting guidelines over multiple periods, and had already been fined for similar transgressions. They also failed to cooperate and tried to hide information — though are now very much looking forward to cooperating with the authorities to save the club’s professional status.

“A points penalty had been hanging over the club’s head for some time. After having previously received a fine of 100,000 euros — for failure to report the termination of the banking relationship by Revolut — such a punishment seemed unavoidable. After all, the club was unable to meet certain licensing requirements. For example, Vitesse did not submit the half-yearly figures correctly, acted incorrectly with regard to ING Bank and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and the Wladimiroff report was unable to demonstrate whether or not there are connections between Vitesse and Roman Abramovich.

“[…] Vitesse has decided not to appeal against the licensing committee’s punishment. After all, the club wants to focus on retaining the license. Such an appeal will not contribute to this.”

Vitesse statement

Dutch Eredivisie”Vitesse Arnhem v Feyenoord Rotterdam”

Oyf is the one on the right

The potential connections with Abramovich relate to EU sanctions against our former owner, similar to the UK sanctions that were placed on him, which resulted in the sale of Chelsea in 2022.

Vitesse are currently owned by another Russian oligarch, the (ironically) Ukraine-born Valeriy Oyf, who’s sai who has been trying to sell his majority shares since 2022 as well. However, he’s yet to find any takers, and the financial uncertainties of that situation have seemingly led the club down the path to where they find themselves today. An investigation into that situation by the Dutch Ministry is still ongoing, and the KNVB’s decision has had nothing to do with that, as they explain.

So Vitesse could be in for a bit more pain as they fight to save their future.

“Although this is a dark day for everything and everyone who cares about Vitesse, this is the harsh reality. After all, such a punishment was inevitable.

“On the other hand — and I really want to make this clear to everyone — we are extremely happy with the opportunity that is being offered to us to retain our license. This too was hanging by a thread. However, it is clear in the response of the Licensing Committee that there is confidence in the club’s new direction. We cling to that and will continue at full speed. I said it before: Vitesse should not and cannot disappear!”

-Edwin Reijtnjes, interim GM; source: Vitesse

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