Why Sheffield United could still face Gareth Ainsworth's Wycombe next season after EFL's bombshell Derby County statement

Sheffield United’s fixture list for the 2021/22 Championship season was unveiled this morning – but two games are still up in the air.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 9:48 am

Derby County survived relegation on the last day of the last campaign, sending Sheffield Wednesday into League One instead. But the threat of demotion has not completely evaporated for the Rams just yet, after the EFL announced they were fining the Pride Park club £100,000 over some of their accounting policies – and potentially pushing for sterner sanctions on appeal, including a points deduction last season.

With Derby surviving by a point, and Wycombe going down instead, any sanction of that kind would throw the 2021/22 season into chaos – with the EFL publishing ‘interchangeable’ fixture lists this morning for both Wycombe and Derby, in case the Rams are relegated and Wycombe stay up.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The EFL brought charges against Derby last year, claiming they had breached financial fair play rules. An independent disciplinary commission initially cleared the Rams, meaning they escaped a serious sanction, but an appeal was later settled in the EFL’s favour – leading to the £100,000 fine, but no points deduction.

Both parties can appeal that decision, with the EFL understood to be pushing for sterner sanctions.

United are slated to play Derby at Bramall Lane on September 25, before travelling to Pride Park on January 15. But those plans may yet be ripped up in favour of games against Wycombe – whose manager Gareth Ainsworth, of course, is not the most popular figure amongst Blades fans who have never forgiven his crude challenge on Dane Whitehouse while he was at Port Vale.

Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth. Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

The EFL’s full statement read:

"An independent Disciplinary Commission has delivered its verdict on sanctions for Derby County relating to ongoing disciplinary proceedings.

"In May, an Independent League Arbitration Panel ruled that the Disciplinary Commission was wrong to dismiss the League’s expert accountancy evidence, which demonstrated that the Club’s policy regarding the amortisation of player registrations was contrary to standard accounting rules.

"More specifically, the panel determined that the Club’s policy was not in accordance with accounting standard FRS102 because it failed to accurately reflect the manner in which the Club takes the benefit of player registrations over the lifetime of a player’s contract.

"Tonight, the Disciplinary Commission has announced that the sanction to be imposed in respect of those breaches, is a financial penalty of £100,000 to be paid to the EFL and a reprimand for the Club as to its future conduct regarding the preparation of its Annual Accounts.

"In addition, the Club has also been ordered to file restated accounts for financial years ending 30 June 2016, 2017 and 2018 that meet the requirements of FRS102, together with updated Profit & Sustainability calculations if necessary.

"Both Derby County and the EFL have the right to appeal that sanction decision.

"That being the case, ahead of the publication of the 2021/22 season fixture lists on 24 June at 9am, the EFL can confirm that it has developed an interchangeable fixture list for Derby County and Wycombe Wanderers, while the disciplinary process is finalised.

"The fixture list for both the Championship and League One will be published in full based on the 2020/21 final standings, pending any appeals relating to this decision.”