‘If it’s good enough for Derby, it’s good enough for us’ – Sheffield Wednesday fans react to reported sale of Hillsborough
Sheffield Wednesday fans have welcomed the reported move by chairman Dejphon Chansiri to buy Hillsborough to ensure the club remains within the confines of Profitability and Sustainability regulations.
It is believed the Owls have followed in the footsteps of Championship rivals Derby County with a sale and lease back of the stadium.
Derby reported a pre-tax profit of £14.6m after selling their Pride Park ground to owner Mel Morris for £80m last year.
Aston Villa are also thought to be contemplating a similar approach with Villa Park if they fail to win promotion to the Premier League. Steve Bruce’s former club face the Rams in the play-off final on May 27.
As for Wednesday, who were placed under a soft transfer embargo last summer after breaching P&S rules, they have yet to publish their accounts for the 2017-18 season after delaying the original deadline of February 27 by a further two months.
A club spokesman said that any new arrangement regarding the ground would be clear in their accounts, which they insisted would be published in the next few weeks.
But the Owls faithful seemed to welcome the move, which would help to ease off the prospect of any further Financial Fair Play punishment being dished out by the English Football League.
Season-ticket holder Molly Shepherd Boden said: “It’s an unfortunate situation, but the EFL are putting clubs in a position where they need to find loopholes to avoid being sanctioned.
“Parachute payments are supporting clubs coming down from the Premier League and clubs like Wednesday, Villa and Derby are having to find new ways of releasing funds and avoiding punishment. I think the whole FFP system needs an overhaul.”
James Marriott, of the Wednesday Week podcast, said Derby seemed to ‘open the door’ to other Championship clubs.
He said: “To be honest, I don’t really know how I feel about it because it’s very much football in the 21st century.
“It feels a bit messy. I am not a fan of the FFP rules as they are so I think for any club that’s managed to find a way around them then fair play. The alternative was quote painful for us as a club.
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“This feels like the lesser of the evils in the sitation.”
Mr Marriott also praised the work of Mr Chansiri, who he said had ‘proven his commitment to the club over the last six months’ and said he was looking forward to the new season.
He said: “I can’t wait for August to come around – I am really confident that we will do some good business. I really trust Steve Bruce to do a good business and bring in the right players.”
Davey Cammack said: “Good, it's about time we actually took advantage of things within the rules. And it’s funny how it's the clubs who can't sell their grounds, that are complaining about it. If they could, they'd probably do the same.”
Shaun Cannister said: “If it's good enough for derby, it’s good enough for us.”
Jon Clark said: “We’re Sheffield Wednesday, we’ll do what we want.”
Gerard Gorman said: “If Derby did this with no EFL action then there should be no comeback if Wednesday do the same.”
Several second-tier clubs are thought to be unhappy with how their Championship peers appear to be using creative accounting to bypass P&S regulations.
The P&S guidelines, which were introduced at the start of the 2016-17 campaign, state clubs cannot exceed losses of £39m over a three-year period or they will face penalties from the English Football League.
Birmingham City were deducted nine points last March after breaching P&S rules. It is understood the EFL will discuss the subject at the end-of-season meeting with Championship clubs in Portugal next month.
An EFL spokesman said: “At the last meeting of Championship Clubs in April, positive discussions took place on variety of different issues currently facing the division, including the League’s Profitability and Sustainability rules.
“The long term sustainability of all EFL Clubs remains of paramount importance to the EFL and we will continue to work with Championship Clubs in respect of the rules at next month’s Summer Conference.
“Clubs have also been reminded of the stringent processes undertaken in reviewing financial submissions and that in the event any Club is found to be in breach of the rules, they will be referred to an Independent Disciplinary Commission.”