EFL and PL AGMs confirm similar but different priorities for the new season

·6-min read
An official EFL match ball Credit: PA Images
An official EFL match ball Credit: PA Images

The EFL and Premier League’s AGMs have been held, but even with the threat of an independent regulator in the air, not much is changing.

 

And with that the 2021/22 season is over. Both the EFL and the Premier League held their AGMs on June 9, marking the formal switchover into the new football season. No-one is relegated on the last day of the season; not formally at least. Promotion and relegation happen at these meetings in a flurry of formalities and legalities. Any rule changes for the following season are agreed. Out with the old and in with the new.

News on the Premier League’s meeting has been somewhat thin on the ground. There were two stories in the Mail prior to the meeting, one saying that the league are cancelling their contract to broadcast in Russia – no, they hadn’t quite gotten around to that yet – and one suggesting that nation-state buyouts could be banned under tougher ownership rules (it was later reported that this had been put back a while and that it was unlikely that nation-states would be banned).

Elsewhere, the League has committed to tougher action against pitch invaders and threatened fans with football-wide bans to ensure their prevention, endorsed fan advisory boards to nominate a supporter to be a ‘board-level official’ (although further details on that are scant), and extended the £30 cap on away ticket to 2025 while writing them into their rule book, which suggests that some sort of cap on away tickets could be made semi-permanent. But on the whole coverage of the meeting has been low-key, with few changes of enormous significance.

The same could be said for the EFL, but they do at least seem to have something of a gift for finding a positive headline, with the news that clubs will mix and match their kits next season to better assist the colour-blind in being able to differentiate between teams during matches. The league’s decision has been welcomed by the non-profit organisation Colour Blind Awareness, who highlighted recent League One playoff semi-final between Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday as a particularly problematic clash for colour-blind people on account of the teams turning out in red and white stripes and blue and white stripes respectively.

Elsewhere, clubs will now be allowed to name up to seven substitutes on their team sheets with no more than five being able to take part in the match, conviction for a hate crime, defined as an offence that is considered to be aggravated in accordance with the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Sentencing Act 2020, will become a disqualifying condition for owning a club (the sort of surprising inclusion that makes you wonder what on earth might have prompted them to think of adding that, at this particular time), some minor changes that clubs have to make in relation to transferring shares when a club is taken over, and introducing a summer transfer window with a specific date, rather than the window just reopening as soon as all matches have been played.

But the bulk of what came out of the EFL’s AGM was relating to money. Indeed, it couldn’t have been more appropriate in many respects that they had to step away from it all to prepare a statement on the latest hitches to hit the Derby County takeover. At the top of the EFL list of priorities seems to have been to take a more proactive role to keep clubs from ending up in the same position that Derby have found themselves for the last nine months.

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Players and staff not being paid on time is one of the major milestones on the pathway to insolvency, a sure sign that a business is not meeting its most basic financial obligations. The new rules require clubs to self-report instances of non-payment of player wages to reflect the belief that this should be considered a ‘serious breach’ of the league’s rules. Clubs must now notify the EFL within two working days of their salaries due date if they have failed to meet their financial obligations to a player or players. Any club in default of payments to players will, as is the case currently, be subject to an immediate registration embargo.

Should a club default on payments, it will be able to accept a sanction by way of an ‘Agreed Decision,’ which must be ratified by an Independent Chairperson. Alternatively, the club can elect to have the matter determined by a full Independent Disciplinary Commission. New sanctioning guidelines have also been introduced, ranging from a suspended sporting sanction to multiple points deductions. Previously, the EFL was largely dependent on the PFA notifying them of breaches. These new rules push reponsibility for reporting onto the clubs themselves. It is notable that this only seems to apply to the salaries of players, when it should really be applied to all staff. Elsewhere, there were changes made to the Championship’s Profit and Sustainability rules:

  • Clubs are now required to provide a Player Registration schedule that will ensure greater transparency in respect of information that includes but is not limited to players wages, sell-on rights, registration costs and amortisation.

  • Covid add-backs will be return for last season, despite grounds havin been open at full capacity for the whole of the season. Clubs will be able to claim lost revenues or exceptional costs directly relating to the pandemic up to a value of £2.5m for the 2021/22, and up to £5m for seasons 2019/20 and 2020/21.

  • Clubs have agreed that a mandatory requirement for the amortisation of Player Registrations on a straight-line basis should be included into the rules.

  • Clubs have agreed that where a breach is forecasted in future years, the League should have the ability to impose a business plan or appropriate monitoring requirements. This may well result in more action being taken against clubs before we reach the point at which the EFL has to start issuing points deductions.

In a way, the AGMs of both the Premier League and the EFL tell a story of where these two bodies are at this precise moment in time. The Premier League has fan-friendly measures and a clear nervousness concerning what may or may not be to follow in terms of an independent regulator’s powers. The league quite evidently wants as little regulation as possible from outside, but the talk of stronger regulation under their Owners & Directors Test seems likely to be cosmetic rather than substantial.

The EFL, meanwhile, seems more rooted in the here and now. Allowable losses are to stay in relation to pandemic costs for the time being, but the issue of players getting paid late should at least now be dealt with in a swifter and better-defined way. Changes to player registration rules should standardise how wages and add-ons are reported and the addition of a process to put in place business plans to dead off points deductions for breaking P&S rules are both welcome, and good examples of the EFL being something approaching proactive rather than reactive when it comes to financial reporting. That the Premier League doesn’t have to concern itself with new rules for the late payment of wages or worry at all about business plans for clubs whose losses are dangerously high is the story of inequality of football in England in a nutshell.

 

The article EFL and PL AGMs confirm similar but different priorities for the new season appeared first on Football365.com.

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