FIFA have rejected Chelsea’s appeal against a 12-month transfer ban.
Chelsea had challenged the sentence handed to them for flouting regulations over the signing of youth players.
But Fifa have thrown out their appeal – leaving the Premier League club banned from signing any new players for the next two transfer windows.
The Blues now need to decide whether to appeal the latest decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in an effort to get it overturned.
If they do so, it does give them a glimmer of hope they can at least delay the ban coming into force until the case is heard – which may leave them to be able to get round the ruling this summer.
A Fifa statement said: “The FIFA Appeal Committee has decided to partially uphold the appeal lodged by Chelsea FC against the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to sanction the club with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods.
“This ban applied to the club as a whole – with the exception of the women’s and futsal teams – and did not prevent the release of players.
“With respect to all men’s teams, the ban on registering new players, both nationally and internationally for two registration periods, has been confirmed by the FIFA Appeal Committee, with the following exception:
“The FIFA Appeal Committee believes that Chelsea’s wrongdoing consisted in not respecting the prohibition from internationally transferring or registering for the first time foreign minor players. In the committee´s opinion, imposing a ban on registering each and every minor would not be proportionate to the offence committed.
“Consequently, the FIFA Appeal Committee decided that, as far as youth categories are concerned, the ban shall not cover the registration of minor players under the age of 16 who do not fall under the scope of art. 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, which refers to international transfers and first registrations of foreign minor players.
“Additionally, the FIFA Appeal Committee confirmed the fine of CHF 600,000. The decision issued by the FIFA Appeal Committee was notified today.”