EFL: Ramifications for the Rams

Would it be a proper summer transfer window if there wasn’t at least one team in trouble with the EFL? This year’s Championship bad boys are Derby County, who have a stiff embargo, a suspended points deduction and the threat of further punishment hanging over them as we head into the new season.


I don’t normally write about other team’s woes; mainly because I normally don’t know enough about them to do so. However, in this case I thought there were some parallels to be drawn between what is happening to Derby County and what happened to Blues in the summer of 2018.

For those with short memories, that was the summer where Birmingham City signed Kristian Pedersen despite being under embargo and the season where Blues were only allowed to sign five further players, ending up with a nine-point deduction for an aggravated breach of the Profit and Sustainability rules.

I can remember it well because that summer I was in the eye of the storm, being the messenger who broke the story about Blues breaking the embargo. It wasn’t a pleasant time, but I think in the end Blues got away quite lightly compared to what I expected.

Derby’s situation is a little bit different; they have not signed any players while embargoed but up until yesterday had just nine senior players contracted to the club.

Embargo rules state that Derby can bring their team up to 23 players of “professional standing” – and because they were forced to play a team of academy players in the FA Cup last year due to Covid issues, 14 players who would not otherwise be considered to be of “professional standing” have attained that rank.

This has left Derby and the EFL both in a sticky situation.

Derby need to sign some players to attempt to be competitive in the league next season. It does no team any good if Derby are reduced to being whipping boys week after week, and it prolongs the agony for the fans until a solution to their current situation is found.

Yet the EFL have to be seen to be doing something.

According to the new EFL Embargo reporting service, Derby are in breach of four rules currently.

Three of those rules relate to the accounts that they have to restate before August 18; and which if are not restated then the club faces further sanctions under the profits and sustainability rules.

Derby County are also under an “Agreed Decision” whereby if their players are not paid in full at any point next season, they will be immediately deducted three points.

Throw in EFL confirmation that Derby County have defaulted in payments to the taxman, two failed takeovers and you’ve got a club which might be in danger of not just breaking the rules but maybe going out of existence.

The resolution bears a similarity to the one that Blues were given back in 2018.

Derby have been given allowance to sign five players, on strictly monitored wages with an imposed salary limit for each.

That should help resolve Derby being competitive but the bigger problems surrounding the Rams remain – and in turn, I think a warning to other clubs in the division.

I’ve seen plenty of people moaning about the rules preventing owners from spending their own money, but it seems clear that there has to be some regulation as wanton spending and somewhat creative accounting causes nothing but issues down the pike.

Blues seem to be on a better road right now; what look like more sensible signings and hopefully a strategy to move the club to self-sufficiency rather than depending on cash infusions from mysterious owners in the Far East.

My hope is the powers that be take note of what is happening at clubs like Derby and Sheffield Wednesday and understand that while bending the rules might seem like a good idea at the time, it almost always bites you on the ass.