‘Very weird’ – Football finance expert delivers verdict on transfer embargo issue affecting Stoke City


A leading football finance expert believes the EFL have scored a PR own goal after a number of Championship clubs were hit with transfer embargoes.

It was reported earlier this week that Stoke City were one of 10 sides to have been placed under an embargo.

The others were Blackburn Rovers, Cardiff City, Coventry City, Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town, Luton Town, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County.

The Potters have not commented publically on the story, although Coventry have spoken out about their embargo, saying the issue is “purely administrative”.

Meanwhile, Kieran Maguire, speaking on the popular Price of Football podcast, explained the issue has emerged due to clubs being given extra time to file their accounts by the government.

“It’s very weird,” said Maguire, a charted accountant and lecturer at the University of Liverpool.

“It’s a classic case of how not to run a story from the EFL’s point of view.

“The EFL says no comment so the clubs were left in limbo. Social media loves a vacuum and because there was no official news coming out from the EFL, people start to make up the stories themselves.

“So the likes of Luton and Coventry came out and said it is a transfer embargo, but actually it’s all due to Covid and the emergency legislation which was introduced by the Chancellor.

“Under normal circumstances you’ve got nine months to have your accounts audited and sent in. Rishi Sunak [the Chancellor] said ‘I’m going to give you 12’.

“All of these clubs said ‘thanks very much, Rishi, we’ll take advantage of that’.

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“But nobody appeared to have told the EFL. They said ‘you’ve not given us your accounts within nine months of being audited, therefore you’ve got an automatic embargo in terms of being able to sign players’.

“This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, given we’re not in a transfer window at present, so you’re not actually losing out on too much, although there could be players out of contract who you wouldn’t be able to sign.

“It just looks really messy because the clubs are feeling slightly affronted because this story has got out.

“Clubs like Luton and Coventry have spoken out, saying ‘look, we’ve got no financial problems, it’s more of a technical issue’.


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“But surely this is something that could have been avoided. All the EFL had to say was ‘we acknowledge you’ve got an extra three months to publish your accounts so we’re going to give you extra time to submit them’.

“It’s ironic that EFL itself is taking advantage of the extra three months’ delay to publish their own accounts, which is the logical thing to do if they can’t get the auditors in.

“It’s messy, it’s increased a bit of bad feeling between some clubs and the league. To a certain extent, there are parallels to what we’ve seen in the National League [17 clubs were fined for not fulfilling fixtures due to the pandemic].

“Is this the EFL taking a ‘hold my beer’ approach to the way it deals with its member clubs.”





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