Reading and Derby County ‘negotiate’ EFL points deduction – were Sheffield Wednesday given the same option?

Reading are set to become the latest Championship club to feel the wrath of EFL spending rules, with reports in the national media suggesting the club have ‘negotiated’ a nine-point deduction to be enacted in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 12:00 pm

It follows the cases of Derby County and of course Sheffield Wednesday in recent months. The Rams are set to be slapped with for a 12-point deduction for entering administration and could face a further sting, which too will be negotiated according to reports.

Wednesday’s six-point deduction – halved from 12 on appeal – effectively saw them relegated from the Championship last season.

There has been confusion over the ‘negotiation’ of a points deduction by both Derby and Reading and questions asked over whether Wednesday were afforded the same opportunity.

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Put simply; they were, but it would have effectively meant ‘pleading guilty’ to a charge where the club felt they had done nothing wrong. Wednesday instead chose to fight the charge.

“Clubs have two options,” explained Keiran Maguire, football finance lecturer and co-host of the Price of Football podcast.

“They can either accept a charge from the EFL where they first contact them or the club can deny all wrongdoing in which case it goes to a tribunal.

“It’s a bit like pleading guilty in court,” he continued. “You know that if you plead guilty to a crime, it’s going to shorten the proceedings for everyone and in return you get a reduced sentence.

Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri.

“Regulation 85 states that if the EFL and the club can come to an agreement you can get that bit of leeway for avoiding the EFL aggravation, the delay and costs seen in other cases including that of Sheffield Wednesday.”

So would Wednesday have been wise to roll over and take the deduction? It was suggested at the time that even without the aggravating circumstances of the stadium sale, the points deduction could have scaled nine or even 12 points – the deduction initially slapped on Wednesday by an independent commission.

The Owls’ fighting of the charge on appeal reduced that punishment to six points, meaning they may well have walked away from the situation with a lesser punishment than was ever realistically thought to have been negotiated. It’s worth noting that one report suggested the EFL wanted to relegate the Owls outright.

Maguire explained to The Star that in Reading’s case, a Regulation 85 ‘negotiation’ was always likely given they are, to use a colloqiual term, ‘bang to rights.’

“If you take a look at Reading’s finances, their losses in the three seasons to 2020 were £86m, which is far in excess of the £36m loss permitted in the rules,” he said.

“It seems Wednesday decided to take the EFL on because they felt they had a more robust defence. It was different because the valuation was accepted and so on.

“If the tribunal had felt there was no case to answer, as Wednesday clearly felt was the case, then they could have walked away with no punishment at all.

“In Reading’s case the evidence is pretty overwhelming.”