I’ve kept quiet on the Leeds United appeal against their 15 point deduction until now, waiting to understand exactly what is going on with the case. Ken Bates has continued to campaign that the 15 point deduction was unjust, arguing that not only were they punished twice, but the nature in which the decision was basically in the hands of their competitiors.
My understanding is there will be an arbitration panel with representatives from Leeds United and the Football League – which Leeds have accepted reluctantly, preferring the public nature of the courts for their battles, owing to the likely feet-dragging allowing the decision point to go beyond the end of the season, by which point presumably points can’t be retrospectively reallocated.
Bates is certainly shrewd, whatever else you may say about him, so I can’t imagine he would have proceeded so continually unless he felt there was a chance that it would happen. Indeed, if you check out The Bookmakers, who are seldom wrong, they are offering longer odds on them getting nothing back, than getting all 15 back currently.
There are three ways I can see this going, given the remit of the arbitration panel:
The panel deems the punishment meted appropriate to the financial irregularities in Leeds’ exit from adminstration – result, no points returned.
The panel deems that the irregularities did not warrant any punishment at all, with Leeds being deducted 10 points last season (despite being all but relegated already) – this was distasteful, but my understanding was it was a legitimate loophole in place. Result, all points returned.
The panel deems that Leeds’ financial irregularities was punishable by a points deduction, but the level of deduction was too much/too little. Result, less than 15 points awarded, or a further deduction.
Not the most clear conclusion, I guess, but it puts another layer of complexity on our already fragile hopes of automatic promotion. A return of the fifteen points to Leeds (regardless of whatever I may or may not think about this), would see Leeds – currently admittedly – leapfrog from 7th straight to second on 65 points, three points clear of Doncaster, nine points clear of us.
I can be quite philosophical about it, because to be honest, I don’t think we have much chance of getting that second spot now – however, if the points were returned and the standings were similar, or indeed, if we went on a run and climbed up there only to be shoved back down through Leeds being awarded further points, then naturally I’d be gutted – just on a purely selfish and biased level, regardless of the facts or justice (or lack of).
Regardless of the fact-based decision making of the arbitration panel, and I can’t really comment on this as frankly the financial machinations of Ken Bates’ Leeds United are beyond people with far greater expertise in business practice than I there is a softer point that Leeds did psychologically benefit from the point deduction – whilst they would undoubtedly be contenders for promotion (and indeed, still are despite the deduction), I’m not sure they’d be quite so far up the table as they would end up with a restoration of their point deduction.
I have severe doubts that they would have flown out of the blocks quite so emphatically were it not for the opportunity to right the perception of a gross misjustice that the Ken Bates PR machine spun with great alacrity. Of course, that kind of impact is impossible to measure beyond blatant hypothesising on my part – which I make no apologies for, I think there’s only one person on the planet who understands the financials of that football club – which is a worry!
So keep an eye out on the news from April 14th when the independent arbitration will apparently commence. There’s no real precident for this in the past to my knowledge, the nearest I can think of was the Sheffield United row with West Ham over the dodginess of their fielding of Tevez – which dragged on to the point the Blades were already down.
I’m deliberately not getting into the rights or wrongs – I’m writing this from a Forest perspective and the fact of that matter appears to be there is a risk that we could end up cast further adrift from the race for automatic promotion, which would be a major problem for us.