Middlesbrough set to sue EFL over Pride Park sale to Derby County owner

By Dan RoanBBC sports editor
Derby County stadium
Derby County sold their stadium to a separate company owned by executive chairman Mel Morris

Middlesbrough are set to sue the English Football League for allegedly failing to uphold their financial rules with regards to the Derby County owner's purchase of Pride Park.

Boro - who missed out on a Championship play-off place by finishing one point behind Derby last season - have sent a legal letter to the EFL, whose board met on Thursday.

The EFL are set to conduct independent valuations regarding sales by Derby, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading of their own grounds to their owners.

Both Middlesbrough and the EFL have declined to comment on the issue, first reported by The Times.external-link

In May, the issue was raised by Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani, who accused Derby of "cheating"external-link after owner Mel Morris bought Pride Park for £80m and leased it back to the club, helping the Rams achieve a profit of £14.6m.

The ground had previously been listed on the club's books as an asset worth £41m.

Earlier this summer, it was reported some Premier League clubs wanted the apparent loophole closed.

Derby have defended the sale of their stadium,external-link saying they conducted an independent commercial valuation prior to the deal being completed.

Aston Villa's sale of Villa Park to the club's owners is also set to be scrutinised by the Premier League, to establish whether it may have breached financial fair play rules.

The stadium was sold in May for £56.7m to owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens via NSWE Stadium Ltd, a company controlled by the two billionaires.

The deal helped Villa comply with the EFL's profit and sustainability rules.

Villa, promoted to the top flight in May, insist any such review is standard practice, and part of the normal assessments that all clubs face.

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