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Nottingham Forest fail in appeal to have four-point deduction overturned

Nottingham Forest were docked four points in March for breaching the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules for 2022/23; the club's losses breached the threshold of £61m by £34.5m; Everton lost 10 points in November, which was reduced to six on appeal

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Kaveh Solhekol explains the reasons why Nottingham Forest have lost their appeal against a four-point deduction for breaching the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR)

Nottingham Forest have failed in their appeal to have their four-point deduction for breaking financial rules in the 2022/23 season overturned.

The club were charged in January after breaching Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR) by £34.5m above their permitted threshold of £61m for the assessment period ending 2022/23.

Clubs are usually allowed a maximum loss of £105m over a three-year assessment period, although this is reduced by £22m per season for any seasons within the period spent in the Championship.

Forest were the second top-flight team to be penalised for PSR breaches after Everton lost 10 points in November, which was reduced to six on appeal.

The outcome of their appeal means Forest remain in 17th position, just three points clear of the relegation zone with two games remaining.

A reduction of two points or more from the original sanction would have been enough to relegate second-bottom Burnley, but instead the Clarets fight on and trail Forest by five points with two games to go.

Forest had sought a reduction because they felt the original commission should have taken the sale of Brennan Johnson to Tottenham - two months after the end of the financial year ending 2023 - into account as a mitigating factor.

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They also felt the original commission had made a mistake by not wholly or partially suspending the sanction.

Image: The remaining fixtures in this season's Premier League relegation battle

A release published on the Premier League website read: "The club argued that the independent commission committed an error in not treating its sale of a high-profile player shortly after the assessment period as a mitigating factor, and that it committed a further error in electing not to suspend some or all of the points deduction it imposed.

"Each of these grounds was rejected by the appeal board, which found the independent commission was entitled to immediately impose the sanction it did. The four-point deduction will therefore remain in place."

Forest have decided not to comment following the appeal panel's verdict.

Timeline of Nottingham Forest case

January 15: Nottingham Forest and Everton and are charged for breaching the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR).

March 7-8: Nottingham Forest's hearing takes place.

March 18: Nottingham Forest are deducted four points and drop into the Premier League relegation zone.

April 24: Nottingham Forest's appeal against their four-point deduction is heard.

May 7: An independent appeal board upholds the commission's decision to deduct Nottingham Forest four points.

'Premier League delighted' | What about Everton's appeal?

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

"The Premier League will be delighted this issue has been dealt with before the final game of the season because everybody was worried these PSR cases involving Forest and Everton would not be resolved by the final day, but that has all been settled now.

"Forest were basing their appeal on Brennan Johnson's sale. In the summer of 2023, Forest could have sold Johnson to Brentford for £35m and they would've been clear of PSR rules.

"But they waited until September 1 to sell him to Spurs for £47.5m and they felt that was the right thing to do, but by doing that they couldn't bank that money in the PSR accounts for that period because it ended at the end of June.

"They also argued elements of the punishment should have been suspended but the appeal commission decided not to accept any of these arguments.

"I don't think there will be any impact on Everton's appeal over their two-point deduction. These appeals are heard by commissions made up of three different people so I don't think it will have any effect.

"Everton and Forest, though, will feel incredibly hard done by because these rules are so controversial and the rules are on the way out because they're going to be replaced for the 2025/26 season by new squad cost control rules."

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28: A general view of the corner flag ahead of the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Nottingham Forest and Manchester United at City Ground on February 28, 2024 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Image: Nottingham Forest were docked four points in March for breaching the Premier League's financial rules

What else did the appeal board say?

In rejecting Forest's appeal, it was concluded the club left it too late to sell Johnson and that Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis only sanctioned Johnson's sale on August 28 - less than a week before the transfer window closed.

The appeal board also said the original commission's decision was "commendably clear and comprehensive".

It criticised the approach taken by Forest's legal team, which it accused of subjecting the original decision to "microscopic forensic examination".

"Some of the criticisms of the (original) decision have involved a minute examination of the words used by the commission," the appeal board said.

"Decisions such as these should not be subjected to microscopic forensic examination and interpreted as if they were statutes which have been drafted by Parliamentary Counsel.

"Allegations of infelicities of language or errors which are not material to the ultimate decision add to the complexity and costs of proceedings and are rarely likely to lead to a successful challenge of a decision."

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The appeal board added: "As the numbers of these (PSR) cases increases, there will be growing temptation to examine them in detail and burden commissions and appeal boards with minute examination of the similarities with and differences from the instant case. Such an approach will rarely be helpful.

"We are unanimous that the commission was entitled (and right) to impose the sanction of a deduction of four points and to refuse to suspend it."

Nottingham Forest's remaining fixtures

May 11: Chelsea (H) - Premier League, kick-off 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports

May 19: Burnley (H) - Premier League, kick-off 4pm

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