Sheffield Wednesday have been hit with a huge 12-point deduction after being found guilty of financial misconduct, following a lengthy investigation by the English Football League.
Wednesday will start next season in the Championship on minus 12 points following the verdict reached by an independent disciplinary commission.
It is understood the decision to impose the punishment next season was made by the panel, and not the EFL – but could now result in legal action from rival clubs as Wednesday would have been relegated to League One with the points deduction.
The Yorkshire club were charged in November by the EFL over charges of breaching Profitability & Sustainability rules relating to the £60 million sale of their Hillsborough stadium.
The charge related to “how and when” it was sold, and its subsequent inclusion in the 2017/2018 accounts when it was sold a year later.
Wednesday had denied the charge and also issued a counter-claim against the EFL for allegedly “acting unlawfully”.
The club appeared in front of the three-person panel last month and the verdict was finally reached on Friday evening.
Wednesday finished the season eight points clear of the bottom three.
The EFL’s statement read: “An independent Disciplinary Commission, appointed under EFL Regulations, has ruled that Sheffield Wednesday will receive a 12 point deduction for breaching the League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules for the three season reporting period ending with Season 2017/18.
“The sporting sanction will take effect in season 2020/21.
“The club was charged in November 2019 and referred to an independent Disciplinary Commission, which conducted a full hearing at the end of June 2020, before finding the Club guilty based on the fact that the Club should not have included profits from the sale of Hillsborough Stadium in the Club’s financial statements for the period ending July 2018.
“The club was found not guilty of a further charge of breaching its duty of utmost good faith to the EFL by deliberately concealing information from the League in respect of filings made in respect of the Profitability and Sustainability Rules.”
Wednesday and the EFL both have 14 days to appeal against the punishment, and it is believed Wednesday will take that course of action.