Ferdinand urges English Football League to change rule on stadium sales

AFP
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)

London (AFP) - QPR director of football Les Ferdinand has branded the "loophole" that allows English Football League clubs to sell their stadiums to their owners in order to meet league spending limits "an absolute joke".

Last year, QPR finally settled their long-running dispute with the league over the Championship club's overspending when they were promoted to the Premier League in 2014.

The west London side agreed to pay a £17 million ($21 million) fine and contribute £3m to the EFL's legal bill over 10 years, with the club's shareholders also writing off £22m in loans to the club.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

QPR breached the league's spending rules at a time when clubs were not allowed to use the proceeds from selling fixed assets, such as a training ground or stadium, to a related party in their financial fair play calculations.

But this clause was removed from the league's new Profitability and Sustainability rules in 2017, enabling Derby to sell Pride Park to a company controlled by their owner Mel Morris for £81m, which transformed a £40m loss for the 2017/18 season into a £40m profit.

Under the EFL's rules, clubs are limited to losses of no more than £13m a season, although additional spending is allowed on community projects, ground improvements and youth development.

Since Derby's move, Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday have done the same thing, prompting strong criticism from Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani and now Ferdinand.

"We got punished for breaking the financial fair play rules and it was a millstone around our necks for years," said the former England, Spurs and Newcastle striker. "We're still suffering the consequences of it.

"But now they have changed the rules to say people can sell their stadiums to themselves. It's absolutely ridiculous.

"We could have done it but it wasn't allowed at the time. It's an absolute joke and they need to close that loophole. We have put our complaint in but whether they listen to us or not is another matter."

What to Read Next