Nottingham Forest 'extremely disappointed' after four-point deduction

Forest drop into relegation zone after breaching Premier League financial rules

The deduction drops Nottingham Forest into the Premier League’s relegation zone, leaving them 18th with nine games to play and a point from safety. PA
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Nottingham Forest have been deducted four points for breaching Premier League financial rules, a verdict that left the English club "extremely disappointed".

The deduction drops Forest into the Premier League’s relegation zone, leaving them 18th with nine games to play and a point from safety.

Forest are considering their options, including an appeal.

The Premier League said Forest admitted breaching profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) by £34.5 million above their permitted threshold of £61 million.

Clubs are usually allowed maximum losses of £105 million over a three-year assessment period but this is reduced by £22 million per season for any seasons within the period spent in the second-tier Championship. Forest were promoted to the Premier League in 2022 after a 23-year absence from England's top flight.

Forest are unhappy about the Premier’s League’s submission to the independent commission, which imposed the sanction, and claim trust in the governing body has now been eroded after it initially pushed for an eight-point deduction.

A club statement read: “Nottingham Forest is extremely disappointed with the decision of the Commission to impose a sanction on the Club of four points, to be applied with immediate effect.

“We were extremely dismayed by the tone and content of the Premier League’s submissions before the commission.

“After months of engagement with the Premier League, and exceptional cooperation throughout, this was unexpected and has harmed the trust and confidence we had in the Premier League.

“That the Premier League sought a sanction of eight points as a starting point was utterly disproportionate when compared to the nine points that their own rules prescribe for insolvency.”

The commission which imposed the sanction noted Forest’s breach was “serious” and stated in its conclusion: “The four points sanction is not to punish Forest so much as it is to be fair to the other clubs; to give the public confidence that when a club invests as Forest did to compete in the Premier League, it still needs to comply with the PSR threshold for losses.”

The commission ruling added: “When a club like Forest took the risk of effectively ignoring the PSR warning from its finance director before the January window in 2023, and rather than looking to sell players, it added players to its squad, ultimately leaving itself with just two weeks to sell Player A (Brennan Johnson) in the summer 2023 window, such risk taking and ‘sailing close to the wind’ needs a proportionate sanction to maintain the integrity of the Premier League.”

Everton were docked 10 points in November for breaching PSR in the period up to the 2021/22 season, which was reduced to six on appeal.

A second complaint against the Toffees over a breach in the period up to last season is still being investigated.

The ruling shows the Premier League pushed for a six-point sanction – with eight points as an initial figure to account for Forest’s excess over the threshold being 77 per cent greater than Everton’s, but discounted by two points to reflect Forest’s early plea and co-operation.

Forest’s defence was centred around the sale of Brennan Johnson to Tottenham on the final day of the 2023 summer transfer window, which occurred a short period later than necessary.

The commission said such an event could only have been described as a near miss “if it was truly near to the PSR deadline [June 30, 2023] or at the first available reasonable opportunity proximate to the deadline”.

But Forest said the ruling will make it impossible for newly promoted clubs to compete in the league.

The statement added: “Whilst the Premier League may have called into question the club’s business plan, the club maintains that it responsibly balanced compliance with PSR with important investment into the squad to give us the ability to compete in the league for the first time in over 20 years.

“We were extremely dismayed by the tone and content of the Premier League’s submissions before the commission.

“Even after the club had missed the PSR reporting deadline, it still took steps to ensure Brennan Johnson was sold before the end of the transfer window. That was a clear demonstration of our respect and support for PSR.

“The commission’s decision raises issues of concern for all aspirant clubs. The player transfer market is a highly specialised trading environment that cannot be compared to the sale of normal products and services.

“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.”

Updated: March 19, 2024, 2:51 PM