Birmingham City Pushed Into Relegation Battle After EFL Rule Breach

Birmingham the England Championship league team have been deduced 9 points after the confirmed breach of the league’s profitability and sustainability rules, which now means we have got a new team joining the fight for survival in the 2nd tier of English football.

Birmingham City's Maxime Colin
Birmingham City’s Maxime Colin Bristol City v Birmingham City – Sky Bet Championship – Ashton Gate 26-02-2019 . (Photo by Adam Davy/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, the Championship club entered the hearing with the EFL, due to rule breach, which could set them back 12 points due to their excessive spending over the past few years. Despite the possibility of 12 points being deducted from the team, the Blues have been instead deducted only 9, which puts them in an unenviable position just barely above the relegation zone. EFL made a statement regarding the decision, which read:

“An independent Disciplinary Commission, appointed under EFL Regulations, has today ruled that Birmingham City will be deducted nine points as a result of a breach of the League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules”

“It follows a review of the financial submission from Birmingham City for the three-year period 2015/16 to 2017/18 where it was determined the Club had recorded losses in excess of the £39.0m upper loss threshold”

While it may seem like a hard punishment, there is no denying Birmingham knew about breaking the rules and continued with it. Their owners can hardly claim they did not notice they would go over the spending limit, which is set at a maximum loss of £39 million over a three-year period. If any team exceed that amount, they will face the penalty, which is the case with Birmingham. In 2017/18 Birmingham reported losses of £37.5 million, and while you might think they would improve their finances, that was not the case. In February it was calculated the club spent £243 for every £100 the club made in revenue, thus digging their financial hole even deeper. EFL is obviously angry with the team who did not only break the rules but also refused to take any measures to prevent or reduce the losses. But the disregard for rules does not stop there. Birmingham FC who were put under a transfer embargo by the EFL decided to sign a new player anyway when they brought in the Denmark youngster Kristian Pedersen. Despite breaking the terms of the embargo, EFL failed to block the registration of Pedersen, because he had signed an employment contract with Birmingham.

With that move, Birmingham showed two fingers to the EFL which was only the icing on the cake of their disregard of EFL rules, so it’s safe to say Birmingham had it coming their way. As it stands now, Birmingham have been deducted 9 points, which dropped them from the 13th place in Championship down to 18th, where they are only 5 points clear of the relegation zone with 8 more fixtures to go. While they have got 2 weeks to appeal to the decision, it’s still unclear if they will, and even then, if they will have a solid case to reduce or even remove the punishment. But will this punishment even affect Birmingham? With only 8 more rounds to go, they are currently 5 points clear of the relegation, which could easily be only 2 points, if EFL stuck with a 12-point deduction. The 5 points that separate them from the relegation, on one hand, could easily prove to be enough for Birmingham to keep their boat afloat, but on the other side, they are in a far worse position now as they were a week ago. This is where we could question the efficiency of the punishment. If the point deduction won’t make Birmingham fight for survival, the punishment becomes ineffective, which is where we get into a paradox. EFL could either deduct points from Birmingham this season or the next season. If they decided to do it next season, this could result in teams that end up relegated this season feeling as they got robbed, but now that it was decided for punishment to take effect this season, it seems like it won’t change the course of the relegation battle. For justice to be served, Birmingham should end up relegated, however, we won’t get to know if that will be the case until May.

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