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Revealed: Why Blues' EFL hearing is about way more than points deduction; another transfer embargo could be potentially far more damaging to hopes of brighter future.

Byline: BRIAN DICK With Blues

BIRMINGHAM City are finally due to face the EFL's disciplinary commission later this month.

The league have charged Blues with a breach of their profitability and sustainability rules, which limit losses to PS39 million over a threeyear period.

Blues' trolley dash in the summer of 2017, when 13 new faces arrived and the club's PS6m transfer record was broken, proved so costly then and could continue to have severe repercussions.

A three-strong panel will hear the case against Blues - and their mitigation - and decide what judgement to hand down.

Their powers range from a slap on the wrist to expulsion from the league, though if the lenient option is unlikely, the most extreme is inconceivable.

Most of the talk has been around a points deduction or possible future embargoes - in truth, the only people who know are yet to decide. Indeed, after the latest delay they are yet to sit.

But this is not a clear-cut case. There are more variables at play than there were new faces at Harry Redknapp's pre-season.

The first point Let's get this straight, if Blues did breach the rules then they can expect to be punished.

No-one forced them to make all of those signings - they did so gambling on Redknapp's past history of creating a team on the hoof and winning promotion, as he did at QPR and Portsmouth.

In a statement to the Birmingham Mail last year, the EFL pointed out that Birmingham City had agreed with the new regulations when they were voted on by every club.

The club's directors have changed since then - and appear to have a different philosophy - but the fact was the rules are what they are.

However, this does not mean the panel can dispense justice from on high with impunity and disregard for those who are affected most.

Carpet bombing Docking Blues points, this season or next, or imposing a transfer embargo, whether for a specified period or ad infinitum, will cause a blunt force trauma.

It will penalise some of those who were responsible but, more so, it will punish scores, hundreds, thousands who weren't.

Garry Monk and his players have not breached any rules, yet they are the ones who will pay the highest price if they are shoved back down the league, denying Blues gambled Redknapp's past creating a team them of any chance of reaching the play-offs.

Does a sporting punishment fit a fiscal 'crime'? Probably not in the spirit of the law.

And the panel should not forget the multitude of Blues' supporters who have known more sorrows than joys in recent years and who might well wonder where the sport's authorities were when they needed them most - when Carson Yeung bought the club, when he was jailed for money-laundering and when the holding company was in on Harry history of on the hoof receivership. Anti-EFL feeling has rumbled along all season - and finally become audible inside St Andrew's.

Time served Part of that anger is down to the fact they perceive their club to being punished already.

Birmingham were under a soft embargo in the summer - with some claiming that also applied in the window of January 2018. This became a full embargo later last summer.

That was eased in August when they were limited to just five lowbudget transfers - spent on Lee Camp, Gary Gardner, Omar Bogle, Connor Mahoney and Kerim Mrabti.

That makes two, arguably three, windows in which Monk has had his hands tied. Given Blues' improvement under the manager, they could argue that not being allowed to build on an already strong performance has denied them the chance of promotion.

Working under the EFL's business plan means they are not allowed to re-contract their club captain, Michael Morrison. It is difficult to see this as anything other than a punitive measure.

A whole new philosophical debate Why can't wealthy owners do what they want with their money? That's certainly a viewpoint shared by many Championship clubs.

Everyone understands the Financial Fair Play and P&S rules are designed to bring some regulation to a business that could quite easily morph into a sporting Wild West.

But if the authorities have any responsibilities, surely a more important one is making sure the right kind of people are taking over clubs, rather than trying to control them once they are in situ.

You don't have to go too far to find a football finance expert who has misgivings about the whole concept of FFP.

At Championship level it certainly seems to favour the more recent members of the Premier League, who are allowed much bigger losses, PS35m in the first year following relegation, than those who are trying to get there, either for the first time or after many years.

If an owner has the resources to match a rival club's parachute payment, perhaps they should have that right to do so. One for the loaded and their sharp-suited lawyers to argue.

Back to Birmingham While a points deduction would been a bitter pill for the club's staff, players and supporters to swallow, Blues have hopefully done enough to digest that pill without it jeopardising their Championship status. Depending on the size of that pill, obviously.

We want strong and them to be not being players is for the They are eighth at present, 17 points above the bottom three.

Shaun A 12-point deduction would drop them to 19th, gutwrenching but survivable given the way in which they have turned adversity into strength this season.

However, a further transfer embargo could be potentially far more damaging. Monk is hoping to build a future around players like Che Adams, to do that he needs to be able to show the 22-yearold how he can surround him with the quality that would support his Premier League ambitions.

clubs to be we want vibrant. Clubs able to sign not good EFL.

If it's five lowbudget transfers again this summer it's impossible to see how the Blues boss can do that and very difficult for Adams to ignore the overtures of clubs who can promise more. Let's not kid ourselves and think there won't be more offers for the striker.

Harvey The biggest fear for the faithful Supporters who have seen so much change in recent times rightly fear Monk might become tired of working with tied hands.

That concern was put to him recently and he did as much as he could to dispel it when he said: "I want what everyone else wants, the owners, the directors, the staff, the players, the fans, everyone wants the same thing.

"I love every minute here, I want to be able to take this team forward and want to be able to be part of this club for a long time - that's my ambition."

Monk has shown himself to be a man of integrity in his time at St Andrew's - and no-one would dare impugn that integrity - but it's certainly in Birmingham City's interests for the tied hands not to be a concern at the end of the campaign.

Monk has earned the right to push ahead with his project at Blues, if for no other reason than the stability he has brought to the club.

What everyone wants - or should And, believe it or not, a strong Birmingham City is also in the EFL's best interests.

Without mentioning Blues, outgoing CEO Shaun Harvey said as much in August: "The EFL is not about restricting activity.

"We want clubs to be strong and we want them to be vibrant. Clubs not being able to sign players they would like to sign is not good for the EFL."

On that basis, this punishment needs sorting this season and the EFL must give careful consideration to the fact that whatever they do to Blues, they are going to have to do to future rule-breakers.

We are in unprecedented territory.

Which leaves but one request That whatever decision the panel come up with, whenever it's announced, it is accompanied with a clear and written explanation.

One of the most frustrating things throughout the last seven months is the lack of clarity from everyone involved.

Supporters crave and deserve information but they've been getting the mushroom treatment - kept in the dark.

Whatever happens, everyone needs to understand why, and where, Blues and the rest of the Championship go from here.

hopefully done pill gutwrenching be able to how him that that

"We want clubs to be strong and we want them to be vibrant. Clubs not being able to sign players is not good for the EFL. Shaun Harvey


Blues gambled on Harry Redknapp's past history of creating a team on the hoof

The Blues' faithful fear Garry Monk might become tired of working with tied hands

Garry Monk, inset below, is hoping to build a future around players like Che Adams but needs to be able to show he can support the striker's Premier League ambitions
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 6, 2019
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