Sheffield Wednesday: English Football League to investigate Owls over Hillsborough sale

Sheffield Wednesday are set to be investigated by the English Football League over their purchase of Hillsborough stadium.
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The Owls are among a number of clubs who have been accused by rivals of exploiting a loophole in the rules that has enabled them to buy and lease back their own ground to ensure they avoid breaching spending rules.

But The Times has claimed the EFL have now ordered independent stadium valuations of Wednesday, Derby County and Reading's grounds.

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The Owls sold their Hillsborough stadium for around £60m to owner Dejphon Chansiri to stay within the confines of Profitability and Sustainability guidelines.

Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon ChansiriSheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri
Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri

The sale of the ground delivered a profit of £38m, helping Wednesday record a pre-tax profit of £2.5m for the 2017/18 season.

Without the sale of the ground, Wednesday would have posted a pre-tax loss of £35.4m and fallen foul of P&S regulations, which stipulate clubs cannot exceed losses of £39m over a three-year period. Birmingham City were docked nine points for breaching the rules last season.

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani argued that Derby should have faced sanctions for selling their ground to their owner while Middlesbrough chief Steve Gibson also accused the Rams of breaching P&S rules and reportedly threatened to take legal action earlier this year.

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Kieran Maguire, a lecturer in football finance at the University of Liverpool, said: "It's a strange one.

"My understanding, certainly having obsessively gone through the rules, originally this loophole didn't exist, it was prohibited.

"In 2016 the EFL brought their rules into align with those of the Premier League.

"The deal was the Premier League would enforce EFL sanctions in the Premier League if all the rules were a constant.

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"Nobody had spotted the loophole in the Premier League because realistically no one is going to need it, you make so much money there you don't need to sell the stadium to yourself.

"The EFL adopted the new rules, they didn't look at the small print, the clubs did and what Derby and Sheffield Wednesday did is just exploited the loophole.

"It's poor monitoring by the regulatory bodies, but the clubs have done nothing wrong from the perspective of compliance.

"I think you can say from a sporting fair play perspective, they've shown the FFP rules to be a farce."

Wednesday have consistently said they have done nothing wrong and followed all regulations.

The Star has contacted the EFL for comment.