Nottingham Forest docked 4 points for overspending and drops into EPL relegation zone

Nottingham Forest was deducted four points on Monday for overspending, dropping the team into the Premier League relegation zone with nine games remaining.

Forest was found to have breached the league profitability and sustainability regulations, which typically allow clubs to lose a maximum of 105 million pounds ($133 million) over a three-year period or face sanctions.

Forest's assessment period ended in 2022-23 and therefore included two seasons when the club was in the second-tier Championship. For that reason, Forest was permitted losses of up to 61 million pounds ($77 million) in its first year back in the Premier League last season and the club went above the threshold by 34.5 million pounds ($44 million), having made an unprecedented 21 offseason signings at a cost of $160 million following promotion.

The team managed by Nuno Espirito Santo fell from 17th to 18th — one of the three relegation places in the league — and onto 21 points. Luton, on 22 points, climbed out of the relegation zone as a result.

"We (have) got to take it on the chin and just keep moving forward,” Forest goalkeeper Matt Turner said during a news conference at the U.S. training camp in Arlington, Texas.

“Points deduction aside, we've been our own worst enemies in a lot of ways this entire season. So we have all of it in our control. Some of the games that we have coming up are teams in and around us, and if we can control those games and get some wins, then hopefully the point deduction shouldn’t really matter.”

The sanction was issued by a three-person independent commission following a hearing this month.

Forest didn't immediately say if the club would appeal against the points penalty. If it did, the verdict might not be decided before the final round of games in the league on May 19. That raises the potential for the identity of the relegated teams being known only in the days after the season has finished, which would be hugely controversial.

Forest did, however, release a statement saying it was “extremely disappointed” with the decision to impose the sanction and “raises issues of concern for all aspirant clubs.”

Saying clubs should invest only after they have realized a profit on their player development “destroys mobility in the football pyramid,” Forest said, “and the effect of the decision will be to drastically reduce the room for maneuver for all such clubs, leading to the stagnation of our national game.”

Everton recently had a points deduction — for breaching spending rules in the three-year assessment period ending 2021-22 by less than 20 million pounds ($25 million) — reduced from an initial 10 to six following an appeal. That set the bar for future sanctions for similar offenses, with the commission saying it relied “heavily on the appeal board’s position in the Everton appeal.”

That might indicate, therefore, that Forest would be less likely to get its points reduction trimmed after any appeal.

Forest was treated more leniently by the commission after displaying what the panel regarded as “a level of cooperation which is above the level reasonably expected.”

Everton was handed a bigger punishment despite being in breach by a smaller figure, which can be partly attributed to the fact that the commission said Everton provided “incorrect information" to the league as part of the investigation.

Everton, which is also embroiled in the relegation battle, could receive another points deduction soon for breaching the rules again — this time for the assessment period ending 2022-23.

Much of Forest's mitigation centered around the club's attempts to sell one of its top players, Brennan Johnson, after last season finished. Forest rejected bids from Atletico Madrid and Brentford, according to the commission's written reasons, on or before the June 30 deadline for any transfers to be included in the figures for profit and sustainability.

Forest ended up selling Johnson to Tottenham in September for up to 47.5 million pounds ($60 million) but by then was in breach of the rules.

“The player transfer market is a highly specialized trading environment that cannot be compared to the sale of normal products and services,” Forest said. "There will be occasions when a player transfer cannot be completed in the first half of a transfer window and can only be completed at the end of that window.

“This should not be a reason for the condemnation of a club. For this not to be recognised by the commission or the Premier League should be a matter of extreme concern for all fans of our national game.”

In a separate disciplinary case, Manchester City is in a legal fight with the league after the competition accused the English and European champions of about 80 alleged breaches of its financial rules from 2009-18 and 30 more relating to its alleged failure to co-operate with an investigation.

The outcome of City’s case isn’t expected to be known until midway through next season, at the earliest, because of the number of alleged breaches involved.


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