Derby County to play in Championship after EFL decide not to appeal against fine

Pride Park
Derby County finished one point above the Championship relegation zone this season

Derby will play in the Championship next season after the English Football League decided not to appeal against a decision to just fine the club for their accounting policies.

The Rams were fined £100,000 and ordered to resubmit their accounts by an EFL disciplinary commission.

The EFL could have appealed against the verdict and demanded a points deduction - which would have brought relegation.

But the EFL believed it had no realistic chance of winning any appeal.

A statement read: "While the EFL does not agree that those sanctions are commensurate to the breaches found, following consultation with our legal advisors, the EFL Board has regrettably determined that there are insufficient grounds to appeal the sanction imposed by the Independent Disciplinary Commission."

The EFL had developed an interchangeable fixture list for next season for Derby and Wycombe Wanderers - who had finished one point behind the Rams - while the process was finalised.

Derby were cleared of breaching Financial Fair Play rules last year.

However, the EFL appealed against the decision to an independent tribunal and won the element of the case concerning how the club measured the value of players - called amortisation.

The Rams' £100,000 fine came after that arbitration panel decided the club had not followed standard accountancy rules in making their original submissions.

Wycombe owner Rob Couhig subsequently accused Derby of "systematic cheating" and said the Rams should be punished further for "years upon years of violating the rules".

Analysis

BBC Sport's Simon Stone

The crux of this exceptionally complicated case was whether Derby deliberately attempted to gain an advantage by changing the method of accounting for players in their financial accounts - usually done by reducing the value of each player in equal amounts across the full length of their contract - and then attempted to conceal what they had done by failing to notify the EFL quickly enough.

The EFL felt they did and pushed for a points deduction.

Derby argued their case and the panel sided with them, deciding it would be "wholly disproportionate" to impose a points deduction and, also in the written reasons, saying they "could not safely conclude" the club gained an advantage anyway.

The conclusion gave the EFL no wriggle room for an appeal, which had been expected, because it became impossible to argue the panel had made a mistake given the depth of their 52-page summation of the hearing.

It leaves the EFL frustrated and Derby at least able to move on from one of their issues, that has hung over them for 18 months.

However, it is fair to assume a rule change is coming that will prevent any other club going down the same path as Derby, who must resubmit their accounts for 2016, 2017 and 2018 in the 'normal' way by 18 August, knowing they will be charged if they breach profit and sustainability rules again.

However, any decision on that and any subsequent case will have no effect on the start of the 2021-22 season. Derby will play in the Championship and Wycombe in League One.

The Rams should also be able to finally submit subsequent accounts, which have been delayed due to the outcome of this case.

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