Independent Appeal Board decision on Nottingham Forest

7 May 2024
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Nottingham Forest FC deducted four points by independent Commission
Nottingham Forest FC appeal decision of independent Commission

An independent Appeal Board has upheld the decision of a Commission to deduct four points from Nottingham Forest following an admitted breach of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR).

The PSR sanction applied to the assessment period ending Season 2022/23 and was appealed by the club on two grounds. 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.

Click here to read the independent Appeal Board’s full written reasons.

Appeal Boards are independent of the Premier League and member clubs. The Appeal Board in this case comprised of the Rt Hon Lord Dyson (chair), David Phillps KC and Daniel Alexander KC, each of whom was appointed by the independent Chair of the Premier League Judicial Panel.

Premier League investigations, independent Commissions and Appeals

- A party to the proceedings which wishes to challenge a decision of the Commission may to do so under Section W of the Premier League Rules.
- The Appeal Board is also appointed by Mr Murray Rosen KC and must have three members, one of whom should have held judicial office, and would sit as the chair of the Appeal Board.
- The proceedings of the Appeal Board are also confidential and heard in private.
- The Appeal Board has wide discretion in respect of the appeal, and may allow it, dismiss it, or make any order that it deems fit (including varying the order of Commission).
- The note attached to the asterisk on the Premier League table will now be amended to read: "Deducted four points following a breach of the Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSRs)".  
- The Premier League Board has the power to investigate any suspected or alleged breach of Premier League Rules .
- There are a number of options available to the Board where it suspects or alleges a breach of the Rules. For PSR cases, the matter will be handed to an independent Commission to determine whether there is a breach and, if so, what the sanction should be.
- The League has access to an independent Judicial Panel, comprising a number of legal, financial and other experts. Members of the Judicial Panel are appointed, in accordance with Premier League Rules W.19, W.20 and W.26, by its independent Chair, Murray Rosen KC, an experienced barrister. It is the Chair who selects members of the Judicial Panel to sit on Commissions, which are independent of the Premier League and its clubs.
- All proceedings before an independent Commission are confidential and heard in private. This includes the date and location which can’t be announced in advance. 
- There are a range of sanctions available to the independent Commission which include fines, points deductions and other sporting sanctions.
- Under Premier League Rule W.82.2, at the conclusion of proceedings, an independent Commission’s final decision will be made public via the Premier League’s website.
- For further information on the disciplinary process, please see Section W of the Premier League Handbook.

Profitability and Sustainability Rules (see Premier League Handbook Section E)

- All Premier League clubs are assessed for their compliance with the Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSRs) each year.
- Compliance is assessed by reference to the club’s PSR Calculation, which is the aggregate of its Adjusted Earnings Before Tax for the relevant assessment period.
- A club’s Adjusted Earnings Before Tax figure for each season takes account of its profit or loss after depreciation and interest, but before tax, and then applies a series of "add backs".
- These "add backs" are costs that the Premier League and its clubs recognise to be in the general interest of the club and football, for example investment in infrastructure, community, women’s football, youth development and depreciation of tangible fixed assets Exceptionally, in relation to years 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 COVID-19 costs were also permitted to be included as "add backs".
- Ordinarily, a club’s PSR Calculation is the aggregate of its Adjusted Earnings Before Tax over a three-year period. Following amendments made to the PSRs during COVID-19, the relevant figures for Seasons 2019/20 and 2020/21 are now averaged. In the present cases, therefore, the relevant period includes Seasons 2022/2023, 2021/2022, and the average Adjusted Earnings Before Tax for Seasons 2020/2021 and 2019/20.
- A club will be in breach of the PSRs if its PSR Calculation over the relevant period results in a loss in excess of £105 million
- At the 2023 Annual General Meeting, Clubs agreed to bring forward the date for the submission of audited Annual Accounts for Clubs forecasting a loss to 31 December (in accordance to Rule E.50.2).
- The Nottingham Forest case proceeded in accordance with the new Standard Directions, set out at Appendix 1 to the Rules.
- Clubs agreed to introduce Standard Directions for PSR cases (Appendix 1 to the Rules) that seek to ensure such cases are resolved in the same season the complaint is issued, with any sanction handed down prior to the subsequent Annual General Meeting. This provides certainty for the League, its Member Clubs and other stakeholders as to the membership of the League in the subsequent Season (Appendix 1 page 535).

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