Over 30 Points Deducted From English Clubs For Financial Rule Breaches

With Manchester City the latest football club facing charges as a result of breaching financial rules, they join the growing list of teams failing to comply with regulations. has investigated the state of English football in the last few years, looking into how football clubs have been punished for breaking the laws surrounding club finances.

There have been a number of points docked from English football teams in the last few years, although most that have been affected are in the second tier or lower. Financial inequality has long been endemic in English football, with the Premier League even eclipsing the other top leagues in Europe in January spending this year.

We’ve looked at points that have been knocked off specifically for breaching financial rules and regulations. Plenty of other teams have lost points due to being in administration too, but those numbers have not been included.

Derby County 21/22 – 9 points deducted

Initially docked 12 points for entering administration, Derby County FC had another 9 points taken as a result of breaching rules relating to the valuation of their stadium, Pride Park. In total, after the penalties were imposed, Derby were left on negative three points in the table. It took its toll, as the Rams were relegated after finishing second to bottom, an albeit impressive feat from then-manager Wayne Rooney.

Birmingham City 18/19 – 9 points deducted

Birmingham City were the first team to fall foul of the Football League’s new profitability and sustainability rules that were introduced in 2016. These rules state that football clubs could not lose more than £39 million in three years from when the law was introduced – but between 2015-16 and 2017-18 the club lost £48.8 million. They ended that season in 17th, on 52 points, but without the deduction they would’ve finished in 9th.

Sheffield Wednesday 19/20 – 6 points deducted. 21/22 – 6 points deducted again.

Sheffield Wednesday were initially docked 12 points for breaching the same rules as Birmingham stated above, losing more than the allowed £39 million over three seasons. However after selling their stadium Hillsborough to get them under the limit the deduction was reduced to six points. The sale wasn’t officially completed until past the deadline for that accounting period, but a verbal agreement was seen as enough to warrant a reduced penalty. Without this reduction, Sheffield Wednesday would’ve faced certain relegation to League One – lucky for them!

However this wasn’t the end for Sheffield – they lost another six points in 2021 after failing to pay their players in March, April, May and June of that year.

Reading 21/22 – 6 points deducted.

Reading were deducted six points for once again failing to comply with rules regarding profitability and sustainability, having recorded losses greater than £39 million across a three year period. Their £41 million wage contributed to significant losses in the 2018-19 season, and the point deduction left them in 19th, four points above relegation. They ended the season in 20th, narrowly avoiding the drop.

The biggest point deductions ever

English clubs have lost over 30 points in deductions as a result of financial rule breaches, but this pales in comparison to the biggest point deductions ever. The crown is shared between Italian giants AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and… Luton Town. The three Italian clubs were involved in the infamous Calciopoli match–fixing scandal, each losing a whopping 30 points – while Juventus, the team that won the league that season, were relegated and had their title stripped.

Meanwhile, Luton lost ten points for irregular player transfers and another 20 points for remaining in administration – after a ten-point deduction the previous season for entering administration.

Many have been left wondering about the effectiveness of financial fair play rules and similar regulations. It seems they’ve largely been affecting clubs in lower leagues, while bigger teams have been able to escape much scrutiny – until now. With the Premier League’s unprecedented investigation into Manchester City, things may be about to change.
Jonathan Merry, CEO of
Mehdi Punjwani
Mehdi Punjwani
Mehdi is a writer and editor with over five years of experience in personal finance, writing for brands including MoneySuperMarket, Equifax and The AA. He graduated from Brunel University with a BA and MA, and likes to spend his free time hiking, travelling, and reading.