Reasons behind Sheffield Wednesday 12-point deduction released

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The written reasons behind Sheffield Wednesday's charge of breaching Profit and Sustainability rules have been released.

Wednesday were found guilty of backdating the sale of Hillsborough to circumvent spending protocols in 2017-18 and were handed a 12-point penalty, to apply to the 2020-21 season, by an independent panel - a sanction they are appealing.

The English Football League case was brought against Wednesday in November 2019 but was not heard until the end of July. There were two charges, the one of financial irregularities, which was upheld and a second of deliberately misleading the investigation which was thrown out.

The commission was highly critical of both parties, saying:

"Ever since the two charges faced by the club were formulated in November 2019 and pursued thereafter, there have been mutual recriminations by each side involved in the discussions, with allegations of dishonesty, bad faith and deception. Whatever the outcome of these proceedings, there are some lessons to be learned from this very unhappy scenario."

The first charge:

Wednesday were found guilty of breaching financial rules after they included the sale of Hillsborough to their chairman Dejphon Chansiri in 2017-18 accounts, even though it happened afterwards.

The written reasons reveal they submitted a Heads of Terms agreement in August 2018, with signature dates of July 2018, and then failed to supply all the relevant documentation to the EFL - which included an external valuation of Hillsborough or any proof they took legal advice regarding the sale. Wednesday's defence that the EFL were only acting in response to criticism from other clubs was also thrown out while their hastily considered rescue attempts were criticised.

Wednesday, who are appealing the decision and punishment, insist that the EFL approved the subsequent backdating of the sale.

The second charge:

Wednesday were found not guilty of not acting in "good faith" with regards to the investigation and the EFL's handling of this was derided by the commission.

They were condemned for bringing the charge without hearing from the individuals involved first. The written reasons suggested chief executive Shaun Harvey and governance and legal director Nick Craig did not give documents full scrutiny because they were on holiday or about to go on holiday.

The EFL claimed that Thai chairman Chansiri, was being deliberately evasive in giving evidence on the matter and exaggerated his difficulty in speaking English, but that was rejected by the commission.

The punishment:

Wednesday were handed a 12-point penalty, to be imposed next season, by the commission, but the EFL wanted it applied in 2019-20. That would have relegated the Owls to League One, but the commission rejected that for three reasons.

  • First was that the punishment should initially have been imposed in the 2018-19 campaign and had it done so, Wednesday would not have been relegated in that season.

  • Secondly, the delay to the case brought about the EFL pursuing the second charge meant it was heard while the truncated season was still going on. The commission ruled that was unfair on Wednesday, who had lost key players after June 30.

  • And thirdly, the points were not deducted in 2019-20 because of "the actual or perceived inconsistency" in the EFL's handling of a similar case involving Derby.