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Derby accuse EFL of wasting ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ on legal costs

Pride Park
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Derby have accused the English Football League of wasting “hundreds of thousands of pounds” after charges against the club for breaching spending rules were dismissed.

An independent disciplinary commission ruled in Derby’s favour on Tuesday after the club were charged in January for recording losses in excess of the permitted amounts for the three-year period ending June 30, 2018.

Central to the EFL’s charges was Derby’s £80million sale of Pride Park to owner Mel Morris before the Sky Bet Championship club leased it back.

The charge related to the losses, despite the club posting a pre-tax profit of £14.6m in 2017-18 after Pride Park was sold to Morris for £80m.

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A second EFL charge relating to the club’s “accounting policy with respect to the amortisation of player registrations” was also dismissed.

Following the release of the independent disciplinary commission’s written reasons, Derby have responded further in a statement on their official website.

“The case brought by the EFL has taken almost eight months to deal with and the way it was pursued meant that both sides incurred substantial legal costs,” Derby said.

“The club estimates that the EFL’s failed proceedings has cost it hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“Ultimately, that is money all the member clubs will be asked to pay, and that could have been used by those clubs in these difficult times.

Derby sold their Pride Park stadium to club owner Mel Morris for £80million

Derby sold their Pride Park stadium to club owner Mel Morris for £80million (Tim Goode/PA)

“It is regrettable that clubs who had no involvement in these proceedings ultimately have to pick up the bill for the EFL’s legal costs, and that those clubs who strongly encouraged the EFL to bring proceedings against Derby ought to ask themselves whether they think that outcome is fair.”

Derby said the independent disciplinary commission had cleared the club of any wrongdoing.

“The commission found that Derby’s independent valuation of its stadium was at a ‘Fair Market Value’ under the Championship P&S Rules and therefore the club had not breached its P&S requirement in the period ending 2017-18,” Derby said.

“They also found that the club’s accounting policy with respect to the amortisation of player registrations was not in breach of financial accounting standards or the EFL rules, save that they found the policy ought to have been described more clearly.

“The commission criticised the EFL for pursuing the second charge without first seeking ‘information and clarification about the club’s amortisation policy’.”

The EFL refused to comment when approached by the PA news agency.

However, in its written reasons, the commission rejected any suggestion that the EFL had an “agenda” against the club and their owner.

The commission also dismissed the club’s allegations during the hearing that the EFL charges had been “an abuse of process” and that “the EFL was entitled to bring the second charge against the club as it did”.

Derby added their player registration embargo had been lifted and that after “many months of costly (and apparently unnecessary) disciplinary proceedings” the club was now fully focused on the new season.