Editorial: Adams and the February Hearing

Despite a flurry of bids from Burnley on deadline day, Che Adams remains a Blues player as the board remained defiant that the 15-goal forward would not be sold. With February now upon us the focus for the board must now face is the disciplinary hearing into the infractions against the new Profit and Sustainability rules. The big question is just where do Blues stand now?

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Although no date has been publicised, it’s been widely reported that the Disciplinary Commission will meet this month to decide the sanctions imposed upon the club.

Of course, it’s not like Blues haven’t been punished already.

Severe transfer restrictions have seen the club only allowed to bring in a total of five players on very restrictive terms which have ensured even when one player had their loan terminated that Blues were not allowed to bring in a replacement.

The club have also had a business plan imposed on them by the EFL which includes various financial targets including controlling player related expenditure to ensure Blues do not fail P&S requirements this season.

It’s my understanding that one of those requirements was for the club to generate “fresh income”.

While I can’t say with any certainty what the level of “fresh income” expected was, I suspect it was in excess of the rough £7mil per annum figure Blues are alleged to have breached P&S by last season.

Likewise, it’s difficult to ascertain for certain what is meant by “fresh income” but I would think that means a new source of cash such as from a player transfer or a new sponsorship from an unrelated company.

The sale of Che Adams would have certainly counted towards that figure; which is one reason why I have deliberately not published this information until the transfer window has passed.

It would have been tempting for the Blues board to sell Adams with this in mind but I don’t blame them for one second for not doing so; especially given the restrictions that the club have faced bringing in replacements.

As I stated in my transfer email on Wednesday morning, Blues would have needed a large down-payment to cover the contingent payment owed to Sheffield United (believed to be 15% of future profit) as well as to meet the EFL requirements and to fund a replacement.

That level of payment was not forthcoming and I think in the grand scheme of things the right thing to do was to say no deal and to take our lumps with the EFL.

So what happens now?

There is precious little information available about Disciplinary Commissions, and the EFL have continued their normal policy with regards to transparency by making clear they won’t say a word about the commission, who is representing who or even when it will meet until after the fact.

However, from speaking to various people who know better about this sort of thing, I have cobbled together the following understanding.

The commission will be made up of three people. One person will be nominated by the EFL; one by Blues and the chairman will be an independent person with the relevant experience and qualifications as he will make the decision.

The only way I can see the commission working is like a court case.

The EFL representative will lay out the facts as they see it as to how Blues broke the rules, and the Blues representative will offer reasons of mitigation as to why Blues shouldn’t be punished before the chairman decides what the outcome is.

I have no idea on the length of time this will take but I cannot believe it will be more than a day or two of hearings.

I’ve heard all sorts of things about what the outcome will be, and the truth is right now the only thing I’m certain of is that no one knows what the outcome will be.

Blues have spent the last five months negotiating with the EFL to mitigate their punishment and will have made every attempt to show that they are doing their best to comply with the rules.

I think one of the key things that Blues will have to show is how they have met this “fresh income” requirement.

With Blues having held firm on Adams the hope has to be that the club have raised enough from other loans and sponsorship deals to satisfy the league; or that they can offer sufficient mitigation that such income is forthcoming.

The other key thing is just how far the EFL are willing to go to enforce their own rules.

It’s worth noting that the EFL are not a rich organisation despite the huge amounts of money they receive from TV deals.

I’ve offered the opinion in the past that the EFL do not have the resources to properly pursue things like the Owners and Directors Test and thus it should also hold true that their appetite for a long legal battle is probably not large.

It might be an unpopular opinion, but if Blues are deducted points, I don’t think it will be an absolute disaster.

I accept that it might sound defeatist but I had written off any idea of promotion a long time ago so I’m not bothered about how points will affect us in that regard.

I’m also confident Blues have enough points on the board to be safe from the other end of the table too.

Knowing Blues, a points deduction could be a galvanising factor.

We’ve seen the harmony and fighting capabilities of the squad this season and I have no doubt that any deduction would be seen as a reason to fight on harder to “spite” those who have held the club back.

Likewise, on the terraces the mood this season has been “fuck the EFL”. Imagine how much of a middle finger salute a good finish would be if we had points deducted?

Even better – and this is what I want to see – imagine how much it would stick in the craw of our brethren from the other side of the Expressway if we finished above them with a points deduction considering how much money they’ve wasted.

That alone would make it worth it.

Not only that, but a tough sanction against Blues would set the precedent.

I’m actually in favour of this as I want to see the rules enforced against ALL clubs that fail the rules – and maybe a bit of sense brought back into Championship spending.

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