RamsTrust EFL Questions

Following our meeting with the EFL, they offered to answer any further questions Derby supporters may have.
These are the further questions we have sent, asked by our members – we will publish the responses as soon as we receive them. 

The Questions

  • It is reported that the EFL is looking to punish Derby County with a further 9-point deduction. Why so many when, after appeal, Sheffield Wednesday were only deducted 6 points, despite falsely entering the sale of their stadium into the wrong financial year?
  • Can the EFL confirm why a further nine-point deduction is in order, as we have been told that any P&S breach which was ‘masked’ through the alternative amortisation method would have equated to a four-point deduction on the sliding scale? There is clearly a massive difference in opinion there, which would in normal times have led to yet another Independent Panel being asked to rule.
  • Why didn’t the EFL specify a straight line amortisation method if that is what it was looking for? The alternative approach to amortisation still accounts for all the costs albeit in future periods. The charge relating to amortisation appears to be an ‘error’ rather than a deliberate failure – and this directly lead to subsequent FFP failings. DCFC certainly haven’t done anything to misstate or incorrectly designate costs or revenue to the wrong line which would be the kind of red flag that a points penalty is there to deal with.
  • Why did it take the EFL several years to make the charge regarding the amortisation method? Is there any provision in the EFL rules to reopen accounts once they have been audited and signed off by all parties?
  • The precedence issue: The only acceptable restatement would be based on trading (new contracts and signings) decisions made following the charge being bought in January 2020. As has been noted, trading decisions made 2015-19 would have been based on the auditor approved approach to amortisation and with reference to P&S headroom (rolling 39m losses).
  • On the 12 point administration deduction, does the EFL feel Derby would have entered administration if the grounds were open for the last year and a half and covid hadn’t happened? It’s fair to say that the business model used has caused Derby to be affected more by covid, than a lot of other clubs and whilst we accept that we have a lot of debt etc, this would have been serviceable if covid hadn’t happened and thus its unreasonable to use the 12 point deduction punishment in this case as per the EFLs own rules. Especially when you consider the restrictions embargos caused by the charges and the impact covid has had in the club.
  • The points penalty only penalises the club and the fans – and not the owners who took the actions in question. Supporters did question the actions at the time and had no part in the decisions. How is this appropriate?
  • Does the EFL think it has made any errors in dealing with Derby County in recent years?
  • Does the EFL feel it has been fully consistent over time in applying the rules generally and that all members are aligned with the EFL approach?
  • If Derby County goes into liquidation because nobody is prepared to take on a club guaranteed to be relegated, will the EFL feel that it has served the best interests of its members? Has this policy worked with previous clubs in the same position?
  • Surely the EFL would prefer Derby County to be sold as a going concern rather than being forced into liquidation and a sensible compromise can be reached which supports this aim whilst maintaining the integrity of the EFL rules? This will ensure no default on football debts and maintain the revenue streams of an historic and well supported team from both a TV deal and matchday perspective.
  • On the subject of squad size, the EFL states that the restrictions are there to prevent the club from overspending. However, this doesn’t explain why it doesn’t allow the club to make full use of the young players it has, which they are already paying. At the moment, several of those promising young players are denied an opportunity to play in the first team, despite that being a clear pathway to more sustainable football. Eiran Cashin and Liam Thompson are the two to use as an example. Wayne Rooney is on record as saying both would’ve played this season under normal circumstances, but playing either of them, even for just one minute, would have made them a player of professional standing and meant one less free agent he could sign.
  • Effectively, the current embargo terms are blocking the pathway to the first team of young professional players who haven’t yet made a senior appearance. Is that really what the EFL wants?
  • The EFL responses to our questions talk a lot about the unsuitability of the current rules, particularly parachute and solidarity payments. It also refers to wanting to move away from the benefactor model. Yet at the same time it appears to show no flexibility in applying the rules from the governance model that it considers to be broken. 
  • Whilst we understand that this bigger picture is important for the future of the game as a whole, and would indeed support a much overdue change in rules, it feels like you are trying to make an example of Derby County, to support your case for change. We don’t want to be yet another case study with a negative outcome. There are already enough of those in the game.
  • How can we work to turn this situation into a more positive example that demonstrates that the EFL can act with compassion to help save and turn around a founder member with a rich history and large, passionate fanbase? Surely this would then provide a better example for change, by proving that it can work with understanding on both sides?

The EFL agreed to answer these questions, and answers should arrive in due course.