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at 16:40 11 May 2021
EFL wins part of appeal against Derby County accounting policies
The English Football League has won part of an appeal against Derby County over some of the Championship club's accounting policies.
The Rams were cleared of breaching Financial Fair Play rules last year.
However, the EFL appealed against the decision to an independent tribunal and it has won the element of the case concerning how the club measured the value of players - called amortisation.
Derby said the club "accepts but is disappointed" at the decision.
An EFL statement said: "The [independent league arbitration] panel concluded that the disciplinary commission was wrong to dismiss the league's expert accountancy evidence, which demonstrated that the club's policy regarding the amortisation of player registrations was contrary to standard accounting rules."
It added: "The club and EFL will now have the opportunity to make submissions on the appropriate sanction arising out of those breaches.
"Despite media speculation there is no definitive timescale for a determination on sanction, though the league will press for a decision as soon as reasonably possible and will provide a further update at the appropriate time."
A Derby statement added: "The club and the EFL have agreed that the matter shall now be remitted back to the original disciplinary commission who can determine what, if any, consequences arise from the partial success of the EFL's amortisation charge, and the club is therefore currently unable to comment further."
The ruling comes following a difficult season for Derby, which came to a positive conclusion when manager Wayne Rooney's side survived in the Championship by the narrowest of margins thanks to a 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Afterwards, Rooney called for clarity over the club's ownership situation.
Owner Mel Morris has been desperate to offload the club but after the collapse of one deal, thought he had struck another with Spanish businessman Erik Alonso.
However, that deal is also in huge doubt amid confusion and uncertainty over Alonso's source of funding.
There is concern among some fans about Morris' willingness to continue funding the club should the Alonso deal collapse.
This is a blow to Derby but the extent of the damage will not be known for some time.
Although the club cannot appeal against the decision, they can appeal against any sanction. And given there are going to be arguments around what that sanction should be, it is difficult to see how that will be sorted out in time for it to apply this season.
That may disappoint Wycombe, who stand to benefit from any points deduction applied for the current campaign, but it is not in Derby's interests for the matter to be conducted speedily.
Beyond that, even if there is no points penalty, a fine will hurt the Rams because their finances are in a delicate state as it is.
Keogh wins £2m payout
Meanwhile, former Derby captain Richard Keogh has won a £2m payout after appealing against his dismissal from the club in 2019.
He was sacked for gross misconduct over his involvement in a car crash.
Keogh sustained knee ligament damage and was out for 12 months.
He made 356 appearances for the Rams after joining from Coventry in 2012 and now plays for Huddersfield.
Keogh had won an appeal at the EFL's Player Related Dispute Commission (PRDC) but that had been contested by Derby at the League Appeals' Committee (LAC). The LAC has now upheld the original verdict.
The EFL said in a statement: "The PDRC held that Mr Keogh had not committed gross misconduct, that he had not brought the club into serious disrepute and that he had been wrongly dismissed by the club."
|Champions League final|
at 05:59 11 May 2021
Portugal is a strong candidate to host the Champions League final after Uefa did not gain guarantees of exemptions it wants to move the game to Wembley.
Uefa, UK government officials and the Football Association met on Monday to discuss moving the game between Chelsea and Manchester City from Istanbul.
Uefa has decided it will be moved after Turkey was put on England's red travel list meaning fans cannot travel.
Portugal is on the green list so fans would be allowed to attend on 29 May.
The match could still be played at Wembley but it would require a major shift from the government, who have so far failed to reach an agreement with Uefa.
European football's governing body feels in Portugal it is going to be easier to gain access for sponsors and broadcasters, who would need to be compensated if they were unable to attend the game.
Porto has been mentioned as a potential venue but it is understood Lisbon, which hosted last year's final, is also a possibility.
Travellers from England to green-list countries must follows rules before departure but do not have to quarantine on their return.
UK citizens returning from red-list countries are required to quarantine at a government-approved hotel for 10 days.
Such a quarantine would have an impact on players involved in Euro 2020, which starts on 11 June.
On Friday, transport secretary Grant Shapps said Covid-19 red-list countries "should not be visited except in the most extreme circumstances".
Uefa had hoped to give both clubs a minimum of 4,000 tickets each for the game at Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
Shapps said that the FA was in talks with Uefa about switching the game, but that it is "ultimately a decision for Uefa".
Chelsea Supporters Trust has said it will meet Uefa and will request that the final is moved to the UK, while Manchester City fan groups said they will be renewing their calls to move the game from Istanbul.
There is also a fixture issue to resolve, as Wembley is scheduled to stage the Championship play-off final on 29 May. However, it is understood the EFL would consider moving the match if asked by Uefa, and its board would make the final call.
at 18:43 6 May 2021
Ex-Pool owner Owen Oyston loses another court battle
Owen Oyston, the former owner of Blackpool Football Club, has lost yet another High Court battle – this time against the official receivers.
In November 2017 Mr Oyston was ordered by a judge to pay minority shareholder Latvian millionaire Valeri Belokon £31m for his 20 per cent stake in the club after finding that the then club chairman had “illegally stripped” money from the club when it was promoted to the Premier League in 2010.
Over the next two years the parties returned again and again to the Business and Property Courts in London as Mr Belokon tried to ensure he received his money.
High Court judge Mr Justice Marcus Smith repeatedly criticised Oyston for being reluctant to disclose his financial affairs and assets and not meeting payment deadlines.
Receivers were eventually appointed by the court on 13 February 2019 over the shares and properties held by Oyston and the company, Segesta Ltd, later known as Blackpool Football Club Properties Ltd, and now as Denaxe Ltd.
Those assets included shares in Segesta (Oyston owned 97 per cent of its shares); Segesta’s 76 per cent of shares in Blackpool Football Club Limited, which operated Blackpool FC, Blackpool FC’s stadium, training ground, and a Travelodge.
There were also eight residential properties.
The receivers were David Rubin and Paul Cooper.
They were conditionally discharged from their roles on 19 December 2019, following a settlement between Mr Oyston and Mr Belokon two days earlier – just as the sale of the Travelodge was about to be completed for £7.9m.
At the latest court hearing, instigated by Oyston and heard over two days last month, he and Denaxe challenged the amount of money the official receivers took from the realisation of the assets in fees, costs, and disbursements – claiming they were “too high, excessive, unreasonable or disproportionate.”
The sale of the football assets as a package was completed in June 2019 for £8.2m.
Included were the BFC shares, the stadium, and two of the residential properties.
In total the receivers realised £8,937,544 and paid over to Mr Belokon £7,335,774.
As at 19 December 2019, the receivers had paid fees to themselves of £600,000 and were still owed £360,137.
But in his reserved written judgement, Mr Justice Smith said although the receivers had not won on every point, he did not consider that any discount should be made.
“The receivers were entitled to take the approach they did on these issues,” he said.
He added that they were of a “high standard, competent, and capable” and the receivership was complex.
He asked the receivers to put together a draft account, including sums still outstanding, for Oyston and Denaxe to agree.
If they cannot, they should come back to court within three weeks.
In his judgement, Mr Justice Smith said it was “likely” – as the receivers had stated – that “Oyston’s desire to settle the proceedings was in a direct response to the threat of the extension of the receivership and the imminent sale of the Travelodge”.
The receivers also said: “From the outset of the receivership, the receivers encountered obstructive conduct from the claimants and their legal representatives. This had a significant impact on the Receivers’ time-costs and legal costs.”
The judge said he accepted the accuracy of that statement.
at 11:30 6 May 2021
UK Royal Navy ships patrolling Jersey amid fishing row with France
Two Royal Navy ships are patrolling waters around Jersey and a French patrol vessel is nearby, as fishermen protest over their post-Brexit rights.
About 60 French and Jersey boats are blocking the island's St Helier port, with a freight vessel unable to leave.
French fishermen say their rights are unfairly restricted by licences issued by the island under a new system.
Jersey officials are meeting the "peaceful" protesters to try and resolve the dispute.
HMS Severn, which has previously been used to shadow Russian navy warships off the English coast, can be seen from the port, sitting off about a mile from the French boats. HMS Tamar is nearby and both ships are maintaining a presence and not making any effort to intervene.
No 10 said it sent the two Navy vessels to "monitor the situation".
France has threatened to cut off electricity to the island over the row.
The boats are protesting against new fishing rules - introduced last week by the Jersey government under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) - which require French boats to show they have a history of fishing in Jersey's waters. But it has been claimed additional requirements were added without notice.
French authorities say "new technical measures" had not been communicated to the EU, rendering them "null and void".
"It's really important that we are able to work with those fishermen to help them provide the necessary evidence so that, if required, their licences can be amended," Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey's external relations minister, told BBC News.
"As I've said, it's important that we respond to threats, but the answer to this solution is to continue to talk and diplomacy."
An Elysée spokesman said France was monitoring the situation "very closely", adding that it is "currently calm and we hope that this will remain the case".
"We want to be able to return to negotiations, that we can obtain the fishing licenses provided for in the agreement."
MEP Stephanie Yon-Courtin, a member of the EU fisheries committee, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme they were "taken by surprise" by new fishing rules, adding: "We are counting on the good faith from Jersey and the UK government to help and deescalate the tension."
Of the threats to cut off electricity to Jersey, she said "these are only words we are not ready for war", but she added "all retaliatory measures will be explored".
On Wednesday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged his "unwavering support" for Jersey, the largest Channel Island and a Crown dependency, located 14 miles (22km) off France and "any blockade" would be "completely unjustified"
Mr Johnson held talks with Jersey's Chief Minister John Le Fondré and Jersey's Minister of External Affairs Ian Gorst, and "stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions" between Jersey and France.
Senator Gorst told the BBC the French threats were "disproportionate" but he was expecting a "peaceful demonstration" by fisherman on Thursday morning.
A statement from the Jersey government read: "Diplomatic efforts will continue to resolve the outstanding issues relating to fishing licences and to de-escalate the situation."
Dimitri Rogoff, head of fisheries for the Normandy region, said the boats would not try to block St Helier and would return to France in the afternoon, AFP reported.
Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey said the threats were "completely unreasonable" and urged the UK government to "get round the table with French colleagues and authorities in Jersey and sort this issue out"
The threat to cut off Jersey's electricity supply - 95% of which is delivered by three underwater cables from France - was made by French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin on Tuesday.
HMS Severn and HMS Tamar are based in Portsmouth. They are both 90.5m in length, have two large guns, including a short-range anti-aircraft weapon, and are crewed by 45 sailors and up to 50 Royal Marines.
The ships are routinely used for fisheries protection - with sailors able to board other boats for spot checks.
at 20:03 5 May 2021
Neil Critchley speaks up for unsung Blackpool hero Ollie Turton
Neil Critchley believes Mr Reliable Ollie Turton probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves
Blackpool’s longest-serving player, who has been at the seaside since 2017, has played an integral role this season.
The full-back, 28, proved his versatility during Saturday’s 3-0 win at Northampton Town, starting the game at wing-back before moving into central midfield following the injury to Ethan Robson.
Head coach Critchley said: “He went in midfield and made a real contribution to the team in a positive way in the middle of the pitch.
“I’ve known Ollie since he was very young at Crewe. He’s been at Blackpool a good few years now and he’s been a good servant for us.
“You know you can play him anywhere on the pitch and he gives you everything he’s got every single game.
“He’s a top player who goes under the radar a little bit but I can assure you he’s very much appreciated by myself, the staff and the players.”
Turton wasn’t the only player to receive praise from Critchley on Saturday, when top scorer Jerry Yates also drew his boss’ attention.
The striker ended a six-game run without a goal by bagging a brace to take his tally for the season to 22, with 20 of those coming in League One .
It’s not just Yates’ goals that have proved important, though, it’s also his willingness to press and work tirelessly for the team.
“He’s got a fantastic mentality,” Critchley added.
“You think about the amount of games he’s played – back-to-back games, 90 minutes.
“He gives absolutely everything for the team.
“He’s selfless in how he works and those two goals will give him a big lift.
“They were proper centre-forward’s goals – the six-yard ones, the scruffy ones, the tap-ins.
“But he’s got to be in there to get those goals and he’s capable of getting all types of goals.
“It was really important for Jerry to get back among the goals because goalscorers get confidence from scoring goals.
“I like those tap-ins from inside the six-yard box. They’re scruffy but you have to be in there to get them.
“His work for the team is unbelievable. He’s selfless and game after game after game he gives everything to the team, so this will give him a big lift.
“I’m delighted for him because his contribution for the team is outstanding.”
|Premier League says no away fans allowed when stadiums reopen|
at 13:43 5 May 2021
No away fans will be able to attend the final two rounds of Premier League matches this season when stadiums are set to reopen at reduced capacity.
Supporters, currently excluded because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be able to return in smaller numbers from 17 May, subject to government approval.
It had been hoped up to 500 away fans could attend, but the Premier League says only home fans will be admitted.
The final two rounds of matches will be played on 18-19 May and 23 May.
All teams have a home game in either the penultimate or final round of matches.
"Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance," a Premier League statement said.
From 17 May, outdoor sports venues in England are due to be allowed up to 10,000 fans or 25% capacity, whichever figure is lower.
Final UK government approval for the return will be announced no later than 10 May.
Up to 2,000 fans were allowed at a number of Premier League matches in December, the last time fans were in attendance at top-flight games, before the country was locked down again.
Some pilot events, such as the Carabao Cup final at Wembley where Manchester City and Tottenham each had 2,000 fans in attendance, have been held to test the safe return of spectators.
|Fan-led review of English football|
at 16:19 23 Apr 2021
New ownership structures at clubs will be assessed as part of a fan-led review into English football.
The review, brought forward by the UK government due to controversies over the proposed European Super League, will consider ownership, finance and supporter involvement in the game.
It will also assess if an independent regulator may have beneficial impact.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said the fan-led review "must be a watershed moment in our national game".
Tracey Crouch MP will chair the review and report its recommendations back to the government and Football Association.
She said it will "take the necessary steps to retain the game's integrity, competitiveness and, most importantly, the bond that clubs have with its supporters and the local community".
Recent events - which saw six Premier League clubs sign up and later withdraw from a new European Super League - prompted fans to air frustrations over the power owners have in taking big decisions at clubs.
The review will consider ownership models including those used in Germany, where the 50+1 rule means clubs cannot play in the Bundesliga if one commercial investor owns more than a 49% stake.
The Bundesliga says the rule "protects against reckless owners and safeguards the democratic customs of German clubs".
"While foreign ownership has undoubtedly benefited the development of the game, the review will seek to test whether existing oversight is sufficient to protect the interests of the game," the UK government said.
What else will be considered?
In addition, the review hopes to scrutinise the Owners' and Directors' Tests currently in place, assess the flow of money through the English football pyramid, and consider if club finances could be scrutinised on a more regular basis.
In the wake of news breaking on the decision by Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal to join a European Super League, former England defender Gary Neville said he felt the game needed an independent regulator.
The fan-led review will assess how this could work and what relationship it could have with bodies - such as the Football Association - in the game.
Time will also be spent considering possible interventions that could protect club identity, such as historical features like club badges.
'Intervention inevitable' - Brighton CEO
All six clubs intent on a breakaway reversed their decision on Tuesday but many in the game have been left frustrated by their actions.
Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said there was anger among the 14 other Premier League clubs when they met this week and he expects "more government intervention" as a result of the controversy.
"First, we have asked the PL and FA to make sure they conduct a full investigation," Barber told BT Sport.
"The second step must be to ensure it can't happen again.
"Clearly the one thing we are very clear on is when we work in football, we work within the regulatory framework. We know there are rules we have to abide by and if these rules are breached there will be sanctions. In this situation, where the game has been damaged - this has been a PR catastrophe for the whole game - there have to be some consequences for that.
"The actions of the last 72 hours proves our framework has not been strong enough. There are so many people concerned by what could happen, we need more stringent control and clear sanctions for what would happen if anyone tried it again. The consequences could have been catastrophic."
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