Derby fear they may be forced to start next season in League One, with the EFL considering an appeal against the £100,000 fine issued against the club for financial irregularities.
An independent disciplinary commission has already sanctioned Derby for incorrectly recording how transfer fees were spread over the lifetime of a player’s contract.
It is thought EFL officials were pushing for a much harsher sanction. A points deduction of two points or more, if applied to last season’s Championship table, would mean Derby were instantly relegated.
That will give huge hope to Wycombe Wanderers, who may yet be given a reprieve from relegation, more than six weeks after they thought they were down.
Wayne Rooney’s Derby side survived on the last day of the season by a point, after a nerve-shredding 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.
But the EFL yesterday announced an “interchangeable” fixture list for 2021/22, with the possibility that Derby might be replaced in the Championship next season by Wycombe, who were relegated after finishing one place below Derby.
SSN has been told that decision by the EFL has infuriated Derby’s bosses, who believe it is unfair to try to back-date sanctions, more than six weeks after the season has ended.
They believe the EFL would not be pursuing a post-season points deduction if Derby had finished more than three points clear of the bottom three, and are angry that the written reasons of the disciplinary panel remain unpublished.
The EFL is yet to announce whether it will challenge the decision of the independent disciplinary commission, but that option is clearly under consideration, based on how the Championship and League One fixture lists have been presented.
Derby ‘disappointed’ by EFL’s press release
In a statement after the fixtures were released, Derby said the club “looks forward to competing in the Championship in the 2021/22 season”.
Derby expressed they were “disappointed” with the EFL for several reasons.
“Although the Disciplinary Commission has yet to publish its full written reasons for its decision, the EFL issued a press release about it and the fixture list last night,” the statement said.
“The club is disappointed that the EFL has not, as is usual, waited until after the publication of the Disciplinary Commission’s reasons nor agreed a statement with the club and in addition has chosen to be selective about the decision and present it in a form which omit key dates and details.”
Derby went on to dispute the appropriateness of a points deduction, adding they do not believe “that it is lawful for the EFL to seek to impose one retrospectively, altering the final league placings after the season has already finished”.
Derby’s statement concluded: “It [the club] shall not comment further until after publication of the full written reasons of the Disciplinary Commission.”