Roberto di Matteo has received a huge boost from football’s disciplinarians, who have cleared John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic to play in early-season games they expected to miss.
Di Matteo was stunned to discover Ivanovic will not be hit with the standard three-match ban for his red card over a reckless tackle in the FA Community Shield.
A recent rule change — untested until now — has effectively downgraded the Shield to pre-season friendly status, so the Serbia defender can play on Sunday against Wigan.
It also means Chelsea will escape the FA’s automatic £25,000 [Dh144,221] fine for having five or more players shown cards during Sunday’s 3-2 defeat against Manchester City.
Terry, meanwhile, has seen his three-match ban from European football reduced upon appeal by Uefa to two games. The Chelsea captain, sent off for kneeing Alexis Sanchez during last season’s Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, missed the Champions League final in May and will not be eligible for the Uefa Super Cup against Atletico Madrid at the end of this month.
Terry can return to lead the team into their defence of the Champions League in their first group game next month.