Sheffield Wednesday: Everything we know so far about Dejphon Chansiri's EFL misconduct charge, the Hillsborough stadium sale and next steps

Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri has been charged with misconduct by the English Football League.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 6:21 pm

It is understood the charges relate to the Championship club's controversial £60 million sale of HIllsborough to Chansiri to avoid breaking spending rules in the 2017/18 season.

Here, we run through what we know so far and what the next steps are…

Why has Chansiri been charged?

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Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri

The charge relates to "how and when" the stadium was sold.

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire from the University of Liverpool, said: "The timing of the sale appears curious. Sheffield Wednesday's accounts were until 31 July 2018 and there was no reference of ownership by the new company until around 12 months later with the land registry."

Without the sale of the ground, Wednesday would have posted a pre-tax loss of £35.4m and breached Profitability and Sustainability regulations.Under P&S rules, clubs are permitted to lose a maximum of £39 million over three years.

What is the issue?

As well as the timing of the stadium sale, there is an issue over the transaction.

"In normal circumstances - it’s the same as with a house - you don’t get the property until you pay for it," Maguire told The Star. "What we’ve seen though with Sheffield Wednesday is that although they sold the property to Mr Chansiri’s other company, no money changed hands and Sheffield Wednesday have in their accounts a debt of £60m owing from this other company.

"That debt is repayable in seven instalments of £7.5m over an eight-year period. That is very unusual for a property transaction. You’ve got to ask - is this a genuine sale of a property, or has it been undertaken purely to improve Wednesday’s accounts for the purpose of FFP?

Any other issues?

The valuation of the stadium itself.

“Given that Reading sold their stadium for £27m and West Ham sold theirs for £40m, it does seem unusual for Sheffield Wednesday's stadium to be sold for £60m,” said Maguire. “The geographical location would suggest that it's not in a property area which is significantly higher than London or the home counties.

Is it just Chansiri who is under the microscope?

No, finance director John Redgate and the Owls' former chief executive Katrien Meire have also been charged.

Chansiri, Redgate and Meire are thought to have been notified of their charges on November 14, the same day the EFL announced its decision to charge Wednesday with misconduct.

Redgate stepped down from the club's board of directors last year but remains the finance director while Meire left the Owls in February.

Where does this leave Chansiri, Redgate and Meire?

If found guilty by an independent panel, there is a possibility the trio could be banned from football.

Wednesday have declined to comment on the charges but The Star understands Chansiri is planning on contesting them.

No date has yet been set for the Independent Disciplinary Commission to hear the charges.

What about the charge against the club?

Wednesday, who were placed under a soft embargo last summer, insist they will "vigorously defend" the allegations.

Speaking last month, manager Garry Monk said: “No-one at the club saw that coming.

“Having spoken to everyone at the club, the club as a whole, I think it was the surprise of it.

“The communication has been fantastic over the last year, between the club and the EFL.

“The biggest part of the surprise is the charges that were put forward were things which the EFL would have ratified and agreed to at the beginning.

“That’s where the strangeness of it, the surprise for the club.”

If Wednesday are gound guilty, what sanctions could be imposed on the club?

The Owls would face "any sanction" under EFL regulation 92.2, which range from a reprimand to a points deduction, financial penalty or possible expulsion from the league.

Their second-tier rivals Birmingham City fell foul of P&S rules last season and were deducted nine points.

Maguire said: “Wednesday will have to simply provide evidence that the transaction was undertaken at arm's length, at market prices, with a report by a surveyor and also evidence that the transaction had gone through - in the form perhaps of stamp duty being paid at the initial date of the transaction.

“Provided they can generate that evidence then I think they would be able to mount a strong defence.”

How long is all this going to take?

“The only thing we’ve really got to go on is what happened with Birmingham City last season, who originally flagged that there was an issue in July and it took until April before a final decision was made,” said Maguire. “A lot of that was down to legal prevarications, demands for additional documentation and so on.

“The EFL will want to get this sorted as soon as possible. There will be implications on the January transfer window, there implications for other clubs who are trying to get into a play-off place that would be tempted to spend more if Wednesday are taken out of the picture.

“The logic would be for this to be sorted out before the transfer window takes place, but financial justice in football, as we saw with Queens Park Rangers, that took three or four years. It can be very slow, but really it would have to happen before the end of this season.”