Were celebrations premature? Derby County face possible points deduction that could see them relegated with Rotherham United and Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday could line up against Derby County in League One last season despite a dramatic last day celebration that saw the Rams celebrate Championship survival.
Wayne Rooney’s side, who were coming off a run of six consecutive defeats, came from behind twice to claim a 3-3 draw with the Owls that saw them finish fourth-bottom thanks in part to a late Cardiff equaliser against Rotherham.
The upshot was that they stayed in the second tier, with the Millers and Wednesday relegated alongside third-bottom Wycombe Wanderers.
But it is Wycombe’s win at Middlesbrough that could prove to be the most significant result of the final showdown after the EFL released a statement confirming they were to bring charges against Derby for discrepancies in their accounts for the 2018/19 season.
It means the club could well be slapped with a points deduction, though the EFL are yet to confirm whether any sanction would be enacted for the 2020/21 season or next.
Wednesday, of course, were stripped of 12 points ahead of the start of the last campaign, a sanction that was reduced to six points on appeal. The Owls were relegated bottom of the league but only three points shy of Derby, meaning the sanction essentially relegated them.
It has been a source of frustration for several clubs towards the bottom of the league that it has taken so long for the Derby case to be dealt with.
In the event of a points deduction of two or more being taken from the 20/21 tally, Wycombe would survive as the third-bottom placed club.
Their chairman Rob Couhig, an American lawyer, suggested over the weekend that there was more to come despite the final whistle being blown on the season.
“I don’t know that the season is over yet,” he said. “Watch this space.”
The EFL statement, released on Tuesday afternoon, read: “An Independent League Arbitration Panel has allowed the EFL’s appeal against the outcome of an independent Disciplinary Commission in respect of misconduct charges brought against Derby County.
“The panel concluded 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.
“The original Disciplinary Commission had already concluded that the Club did not adequately disclose in its financial statements the nature and or effect of its change in accounting policy, and there has been no appeal against that decision.
“The Club and EFL will now have the opportunity to make submissions on the appropriate sanction arising out of those breaches.
“Despite media speculation there is no definitive timescale for a determination on sanction though the League will press for a decision as soon as reasonably possible and will provide a further update at the appropriate time.
“The EFL will be making no further comment on this matter at this time.”