Derby fined £100K but Championship status looks safe as new owner sought

Derby County

June 24 – Derby County have been fined £100,000 for breaching English Football League (EFL) accountancy rules but look set to escape a points deduction that would see them relegated to League One and Wycombe Wanderers keep their place in the Championship.

The EFL says it has been running two fixture list scenarios following their appeal against a previous an independent disciplinary commission decision last August that cleared Derby of any wrongdoing. However, the EFL pressed forward with an appeal over a second charge, related to how the amortisation of player transfers was treated in the accounts.

While there has been no official announcement of a ruling it was leaked that the fine had been applied, though there was no mention of a points deduction that would send Derby, a founder member of the Football League, down a division.

It appears that a points deduction relating to the 2020-21 season was never on the table as the Independent Commission examining the appeal had been informed that the season was officially closed on June 8, 2021.

The EFL appears to be particularly excited about Derby and its owner Mel Morris who has frequently questioned the league’s management and commercial deals, not least the Sky TV deal that a number of the bigger club owners in the Championship felt was undervalued.

Morris is in the throes of finding a buyer for the club having invested about £200 million of his money in a failed bid to return it to the Premier League.

The sales process has seen a number of false starts but Morris is understood to have appointed new advisors to find a buyer. At the heart of any deal for the club will be the amount of debt the new owner will be expected to absorb in the acquisition – it looks likely to make up the bulk of any acquisition price.

Morris has said that his priority is to find a buyer who is well financed and who would be a responsible custodian of the club.

Responding to the EFL’s £100,000 fine for Derby County, Niall Couper, Director of Fair Game, an organisation of 15 football clubs calling for a change in the way football is run, said the Derby “verdict is yet another clear indication of why football needs an independent regulator.
“Derby County should never have been allowed to get into this situation. We need real-time financial scrutiny, proper transparency and rules that allow intervention when a club is going off the rails.”
Couper says the EFL needs “a system that encourages sustainability. Move the parachute payments into a new central pot and use that money to reward clubs that are run well.”

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