EFL issues misconduct charges against Sheffield Wednesday

By David Owen

November 15 – The English Football League (EFL) has issued a number of charges against second-tier Sheffield Wednesday relating to alleged breaches of its financial rules.

The move comes some four months after the famous old club – now controlled by Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri, who also appears to be the sole director – filed financial statements showing a £2.58 million pre-tax profit for the 14 months to end-July 2018.

This profit by Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Limited includes a £38 million profit on the disposal of Hillsborough stadium. With turnover reaching only £25.2 million against cost of sales of £48.9 million, the statements showed a gross loss of £23.7 million.

The BBC reported in July that the stadium had been sold to Chansiri, with the accounts referring to income of £61.27 million “receivable from related parties in respect of transactions recognised in these financial statements”.

The accounts also show that the company’s freehold property assets fell from £25 million to £1.15 million over the 14 months to end-July 2018, following disposals valued at £23.9 million.

An official EFL statement released on Thursday said: “Following a formal investigation into financial information provided by Sheffield Wednesday in relation to the Club’s 2017/18 Profitability and Sustainability (P&S) submission, the EFL has today issued a number of charges relating to alleged breaches of EFL Rules.

“Earlier this year the EFL launched an investigation into the Club’s financial submission for the period ending July 2018 under the relevant P&S Rules following the completion of the sale of Hillsborough Stadium.

“The EFL has reviewed a large number of documents obtained from the Club as part of this process and concluded there is sufficient evidence to justify issuing charges of Misconduct. The charges are in respect of a number of allegations regarding the process of how and when the stadium was sold and the inclusion of the profits in the 2017/18 accounts.

“All charges will be considered by an independent Disciplinary Commission and, if the charges are proven, the Commission can impose any of the sanctions set out in EFL Regulation 92.2.

“The EFL Board has previously agreed and communicated with all Championship Clubs a set of sanctioning guidelines, but the Commission, under EFL Regulations, has the ability to invoke a full range of sanctions should the breach be confirmed.

“The EFL continues to review the Club’s 2018/19 P&S submissions.”

A brief statement on the Sheffield Wednesday website said the club noted the statement “and the charges contained within”. It served notice that those charges would be “vigorously defended”.

P&S rules appear to limit second-tier Championship clubs to a maximum loss of £39 million over three seasons, although there is a great deal of small print, with certain expenditures, in effect, excluded.

Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Limited recorded a pre-tax loss of £20.765 million for the year to 31 May 2017 and of £9.755 million for the year to 31 May 2016.

Regulation 92.2 permits an EFL Disciplinary Commission to impose a very wide range of sanctions, stretching from a reprimand to suspension. These also include a possible financial penalty or points deduction.

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