Why Sheffield Wednesday's Points Deduction Should Stand in 19/20
The recent decision to deduct Sheffield Wednesday 12 points was met with appreciation from most fans within the Football League. They had been found of deliberately misreported stadium finances in order to meet financial fairplay regulations. They gained an unfair advantage against league rivals. However the delay of this verdict and the resulting points deduction occurring next season makes the penalty a lot of less substantial.
Now I most admit, being a Charlton fan, I would benefit from Sheffield Wednesday being relegated as it would mean that Charlton would stay in the Championship. I will try and make a claim that this is besides the point. Plus with Charlton's position it probably would not be best to throw rocks from glass houses.
Why Next Season Doesn't Work
Before I say anything we need to note that it is matter of fact that Sheffield Wednesday gained an advantage over fellow teams in an unfair manner. It isn't the decision to punish Wednesday that is up for debate but the manner of the penalty.
The points deduction has two purposes, it has to punish the offending team to put off other clubs from doing the same and it is has to be a retributive measure to restore the advantage gained by the offending team. The points deduction does neither, as I will show.
Firstly, if Sheffield Wednesday received the points deduction this year, they would've been relegated. That is arguably a fair result of deliberately cheating. In the championship their is little to no profit for league positions - except from relegation and promotion. Hence a points deduction that does not result in changing the result of promotion or relegation means nothing. Sheffield Wednesday have a chance to make this ruling mean nothing next season. If the points deduction was more substantial (perhaps 21 points?) maybe this argument would be less coercive.
Secondly, the offence resulted in Sheffield Wednesday having an advantage over other Championship teams. Teams like Walsall, who will benefit from Sheffield Wednesday's point deduction, will not have been affected by Sheffield Wednesday's advantage. It should be noted that the offence did occur in a previous season but the benefit of the players they brought in most be still being felt until their accounts were brought into question this season.
EFL's Defence Doesn't Stand Up
The arguments for delaying the points deduction are also similarly flimsy. They neither seem to address the two glaring issues detailed above and are questionable in their own right.
One reason given by the EFL is that the season was over and that therefore they shouldn't disturb the already satisfied positions of each team.
Now this is tenuous at best, the season was still concluding, as the playoffs where still to be played and therefore the resulting league structure for next season was not finalised. That in itself is good enough a counter argument for myself but many people dismiss this due to the season positions not altering due to the playoffs.
However, even if you don't reject the EFL decision on that merit then you will have to say that the verdict for this decision took place earlier than it was announced. The decision was made all the way back in early July, but was appealed. If the EFL had made a statement that Wednesday were to receive a 12 point penalty following an (unsuccessful) appeal then this deduction would have stood for this season. The EFL just decided in this case to stay quiet. But this is not convention as we will see.
The Unequal Treatment of Wigan
Then you have the most unfair issue, that of Wigan Athletic. They were relegated from the Championship following a 12 point deduction following going into administration. They received their deduction following the last game - although they could appeal this decision! Now if they appealed this decision they wouldn't have delayed their punishment but this is exactly what happened for Sheffield Wednesday.
What makes this worse is that the points deduction for going into administration is supposed to prevent teams from overspending to gain an advantage, this is not what happened for Wigan they gained no advantage they just had a predatory owner, that arguably should've been stopped by the EFL in the first place.
The team that gained an advantage by cheating were saved from relegation but the team that didn't was relegated.
What seems to have happened here is that the EFL have not wanted to act, the only reason they acted so quickly for the Wigan is because there was already a confirmed penalty in place. For Sheffield Wednesday there wasn't so they had no convention to fall back on and so they did the thing that was least controversial as acted to relegate a team there would've been uproar despite it being totally justified. If a 12 points deduction is fine for next season it should be fine for last as well. Both had the verdict made in the 19/20 season and so both should have the points deduction then.
Simply put, if Wigan go down, so should Sheffield Wednesday.
There is increasing pressure on the EFL as an organisation, it seems to be failing at its function as a league operator. Most of these problems, I believe, come from the fact that they have limited powers. All their power comes from the clubs and so they routinely are not wanting to rock the boat as arbitrators. However they need to grow a back bone otherwise they will rapidly lose all credibility.
The EFL's reluctance to act has resulted in an unfair decision that no one is happy with.