Everything we know about Nottingham Forest FFP appeal as points deduction decision due

Nottingham Forest's City Ground
Hitting back... Forest have lodged an appeal against their four-point deduction -Credit:Getty

Nottingham Forest should discover the outcome of their appeal hearing over their points deduction this week.

Last month, the Reds were docked four points for breaching the Premier League's Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR). The club appealed against the sanction and had their hearing in front of an independent commission last Wednesday.

Everton have also challenged their two-point deduction for a second PSR breach, having had a 10-point deduction reduced to six on appeal earlier in the season. Below, we take a look at what we know so far about the Reds' situation.

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Why did Forest want to appeal?

The Reds made clear they were “extremely disappointed” at the outcome of the hearing into their breach. When the four-point deduction was announced on March 18, they issued a hard-hitting statement.

They said: “We were extremely dismayed by the tone and content of the Premier League’s submissions before the commission. After months of engagement with the Premier League, and exceptional cooperation throughout, this was unexpected and has harmed the trust and confidence we had in the Premier League.”

Top-flight clubs are permitted maximum losses of £105 million across a rolling three-year period, with this figure reduced to £61m for promoted teams. After being charged with breaching the rules on January 15, Forest faced a three-person independent commission on March 7 and 8.

The Premier League said the Reds admitted breaching their limit by £34.5m. However, the club felt due consideration was not given to their “unique” situation regarding promotion or to their mitigating circumstances.

Forest’s statement added: “We were also surprised that the Premier League gave no consideration at all to the unique circumstances of the club and its mitigation. In circumstances where this approach is followed by future PSR commissions, it would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for newly promoted clubs without parachute payments to compete, thus undermining the integrity and competitiveness of the Premier League.”

What were Forest’s mitigating factors?

Brennan Johnson’s sale to Tottenham Hotspur on September 1 last year for £47.5m was central to the Reds’ defence. It was their “golden mitigation” as they argued selling late in the window, on deadline day, meant they made more money than if a move had gone through earlier in the summer. However, the commission said such an event could only have been described as a near miss “if it was truly near to the PSR deadline (June 30, 2023) or at the first available reasonable opportunity proximate to the deadline”.

Forest said: “Even after the cub had missed the PSR reporting deadline, it still took steps to ensure Brennan Johnson was sold before the end of the transfer window. That was a clear demonstration of our respect and support for PSR.

“The commission's decision raises issues of concern for all aspirant clubs. The player transfer market is a highly specialised trading environment that cannot be compared to the sale of normal products and services.

“There will be occasions when a player transfer cannot be completed in the first half of a transfer window and can only be completed at the end of that window. This should not be a reason for the condemnation of a club. For this not to be recognised by the commission or the Premier League should be a matter of extreme concern for all fans of our national game.”

The club discussed whether or not to appeal against the four-point deduction with their legal team. They brought in sports lawyer Nick De Marco earlier this year to help argue their case.

When could the situation be resolved?

According to the rules, following the lodging of an appeal a hearing will take place in front of a three-person appeals board. Acknowledging the Reds' decision, the Premier League said: "Nottingham Forest Football Club has appealed the decision of an independent Commission to impose a four-point deduction on the club, after its admission of a breach of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules. The club lodged the appeal to the Chair of the Judicial Panel today (March 25), who will now appoint an Appeal Board to hear the case."

The outcome of the appeal hearing is expected this week. They should know where they stand before they make the trip to face Sheffield United in a key clash on Saturday.

The Premier League have a backstop date of May 24 - five days after the final round of fixtures for this season - in place to conclude the situations of both Forest and Everton. The rules state any appeal hearing should “conclude no later than and if possible some time before” that date. That meant the possibility of teams not knowing their fate once after the final ball had been kicked, but the league have now said they will avoid such a situation.

In a statement on the back of Everton's decision to appeal their second points deduction, the Premier League said: "The independent Appeal Board has confirmed it intends to announce its decision regarding Everton Football Club before the last day of the current season. This follows Everton appealing the two-point deduction imposed by an independent Commission on the club following its admission of a breach of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules.

"The Appeal Board’s intention to make its decision public in advance of Sunday 19 May will provide certainty to all clubs and fans. If it is necessary, to achieve the intended timings the Appeal Board will publish its written reasons separately, by no later than 1 June 2024, in accordance with the Premier League’s Standard Directions."

Within their rules, the Premier League have made provisions for a further challenge after the appeal hearing verdict. It is said any attempt to “establish exceptional circumstances” in order to “seek a stay of the effect” of the appeal decision must be brought before a single arbitrator. The rules state: “Any such stay application shall be heard and decided by the provision of the single arbitrator of their decision, with written reasons to follow, prior to 8 June.”

What could the outcome of the appeal be?

There is a very small risk of Forest’s sanction being increased, although that is believed to be unlikely to happen. Nevertheless, Premier League rules state an appeal board may “except in the case of a fixed penalty, vary any penalty imposed or order made at first instance”.

Everton were docked 10 points earlier in the season for a PSR breach, but appealed and their penalty was reduced to six points. They have lodged an appeal against their second punishment. However, the cases between the two clubs are very different and different panels are convened for each hearing.

The Reds will feel they have nothing to lose by appealing as the sanction could remain unchanged. However, the club are hopeful of a reduction - and even if an appeal results in their punishment being reduced by just one point it could make a big difference at the end of the season. The margins between survival and relegation could be that fine.

What has been said?

Head coach Nuno Espirito Santo has described the whole situation as "a mess". He believes the uncertainty at the bottom end of the table in an asterisk-dominated season damages the integrity of the league.

After Sunday's 2-0 defeat to Manchester City, he said he was looking forward to getting clarity on the situation this week. He said: “We are all waiting on that decision. Hopefully it is very soon so we can deal again with the reality.

“We don’t know exactly how many points we have - if it’s 26, 28, 30. Let’s wait and see. It (having clarity) will make a big difference - for everybody, not only us but for all of the league.”

The Portuguese has said he was not involved in the decision to appeal. However, he recently said the uncertainty of Forest's actual position in the table is affecting his players.

"We cannot get away from that. We cannot hide ourselves. These things that we say about let’s ignore the noise - the noise is there every day," Nuno said.

“When someone takes something from you, you are disappointed and upset, for sure. It is so hard to earn points in the Premier League, and when they take them away from you, you feel it. You have to react. I think we are doing that.

“It's a point of distraction. It doesn’t just happen one day, it’s continuous because every day there is something out about what can change - maybe we get the points back, maybe they take some. All these things are what causes the problem."

Goalkeeper Matt Turner has said: "The points deduction, we have to take it on the chin and keep moving forward. Points deduction aside, we've been our own worst enemies in a lot of ways this entire season.

“We have all of it in our control. Some of the games that we have coming up are teams around us.

“If we can control those games and get back some wins, then hopefully the point deduction shouldn't really matter. Hopefully, we can, like I said, take it on the chin, stick together and keep moving forward.”

Attacker Anthony Elanga has said: "It’s hard to take, but what can we do? It’s not something we can control. It is the Premier League that does it. What we can do is just focus on each game because now we have nine finals.

"It’s quite messy. It happened with Everton too, but we just have to focus on winning every game. We are only one point behind Luton so we can still stay up. I believe in the team."

Were Forest right to appeal? Have your say in the comments below