Three Championship clubs are reportedly under EFL investigation after being accused of cheating over Financial Fair Play.
UEFA brought in Financial Fair Play Regulations (FFP) to ‘prevent football clubs spending more than they earn in the pursuit of success and in doing so getting into financial problems which might threaten their long-term survival.’
However the rules haven’t been exactly strict and clubs have managed to find a way to cheat the system, with some clubs using a loophole in profit and sustainability rules in order to purchase their own stadiums.
By doing so, they can gain an unfair advantage in the transfer market and avoid the same penalty Birmingham City were handed last season after being docked nine points for breaching the rules.
Though now the EFL are launching independent valuations of Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading’s grounds.
Derby were looking at an operating loss of £30.9million for 2017/18, but instead reversed it to £14.6million pre-tax profit, as a result of selling Pride Park to owner Mel Morris for a reported figure of £80m and then leasing the stadium back.
Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani suggested the ground purchases should be looked at in the same way as the ‘Spygate’ scandal.
Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, he said: “We should revisit the rules. We were judged as a cheating club when we sent a scout to watch [Derby] training, so they should take a similar view on what I would say is greater cheating by these clubs.
“For me if it’s cheating to send a scout in a public street, what should be the punishment of selling the stadium to a sister company to increase income of the clubs?”
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire says the loophole has made a ‘farce’ of the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules.
“It’s a strange one,” said the University of Liverpool’s football finance lecturer.
“My understanding, certainly having obsessively gone through the rules, originally this loophole didn’t exist, it was prohibited.
“In 2016 the EFL brought their rules into align with those of the Premier League.
“The deal was the Premier League would enforce EFL sanctions in the Premier League if all the rules were a constant.
“Nobody had spotted the loophole in the Premier League because realistically no one is going to need it, you make so much money there you don’t need to sell the stadium to yourself.
“The EFL adopted the new rules, they didn’t look at the small print, the clubs did and what Derby and Sheffield Wednesday did is just exploited the loophole.
“It’s poor monitoring by the regulatory bodies, but the clubs have done nothing wrong from the perspective of compliance.
“I think you can say from a sporting fair play perspective, they’ve shown the FFP rules to be a farce.”
Leeds United fans saw the news story that three Championship clubs could be given an EFL sanction for cheating Financial Fair Play rules and couldn’t wait to mock them and demand their were given a points deduction – see what they wrote on the next page.