The dust is settling slightly at Sheffield Wednesday after an independent panel decided that they would be docked 12 points next season over the sale of Hillsborough to a company controlled by their owner.
There seems to have been relatively minimal outrage at the punishment itself, more questions about when deduction was applied, which have broadly come from outside, with Charlton announcing their intention to launch legal proceedings and grumblings from elsewhere, too.
But how have the club themselves reacted? The Athletic’s Wednesday correspondent Nancy Frostick joined the Totally Football League Show this week to discuss it.
“Overwhelmingly with relief. Just because it’s something everyone has been waiting for for quite a long time now. It’s just been this eternal wait for the verdict.
“The club have welcomed the fact the independent panel didn’t say they acted in bad faith towards the EFL. In terms of an appeal against the 12-point deduction, they’re just waiting for the written reasons from the panel, before they decide. They’ll get 14 days from the receipt of that document.
“The fans are divided. Some people think it’s probably fair and that the evidence is fair, others are understandably angry with the process and how it derailed the second half of the season, and maybe their league form reflected that.”
Naturally, this will have an impact on how Wednesday approach next season, not only in terms of their overall target but in recruiting players, too.
“Wednesday were going to operating on quite specific parameters anyway,” said Nancy, “looking at free transfers or young players they could sign for lower fees, or bringing in loan players from Premier League clubs. Obviously knowing you’re going to be starting on -12 points is possibly a slightly harder sell to new players.
“They are trying to be more resourceful with where they spend their money, and who they spend their money on. The vision and maybe the long-term project might be something they can sell better than the immediate future. It will be a challenge for sure.
“I think it’s safe to say survival is the first and main challenge. We have seen clubs in the past survive from starting on minus points. Leeds did it when they were in League One, and they got to the playoff final, so it’s not out of the question, but you feel in the current climate in the way that some clubs are operating on certain budgets, anything beyond survival will be seen as a massive positive and really big achievement for all involved.”
We now wait for the verdict in a similar case to be reached. Derby are also charged with irregularities regarding the sale of their stadium, but as Nancy explained the cases are not exactly the same, and we can’t assume that because Wednesday were docked points, the Rams will too.
“Although the cases are quite closely linked, there are some key differences: the issue with Wednesday’s has been the timing of the sale and the accounting period it was included in, which is very messy and complicated, but essentially from the statements that the EFL and Wednesday have put out, there’s no mention of the valuation of Hillsborough.
“In Derby’s case, timing isn’t an issue, they included it in the ‘correct’ accounting period, but with Derby it centres more around the valuation of the stadium and whether that loophole should have been exploited.”
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