According to The Times, Sheffield Wednesday and two unnamed Championship clubs are believed to have followed the example of Derby County by selling off their grounds and leasing them back as a way of balancing the books, while Aston Villa are understood to be considering doing likewise should they fail to gain promotion this season.
Derby announced pre-tax profits of £14.6 million last month, aided by the sale of their Pride Park home to the club’s owner Mel Morris for £80 million last year.
As a result, the Rams hope to avoid incurring sanctions for breaching the English Football League's profit and sustainability rules, which allow clubs to lose up to £39 million over a three-year period. Birmingham City were recently docked 12 points for failing to comply.
However, The Times understands that Derby and Aston Villa - who will meet in the Championship play-off final next weekend - are two of the clubs most at risk of being punished if they remain in the second tier, with Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United also treading dangerous ground.
Wednesday are one of only two Championship clubs, along with Bolton Wanderers, who have yet to disclose their accounts for the 2017-18 season, which were due at the end of April. And the newspaper claims the Owls could yet be fined for failing to file their accounts with the EFL four months previously, contradicting what was said by the football finance expert, Kieran Maguire, on BBC Radio Sheffield this week.
According to The Times, the EFL will review its financial fair play rules this summer amid complaints from some Championship clubs that rivals such as Derby, Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa - who last year raised £4 million through the sale of a car park close to their Villa Park home - are exploiting the system.
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