Blog: John Coates spells out Stoke City grievances with ‘deeply flawed’ EFL financial fair play rules – Stoke-on-Trent Live

John Coates believes major changes are coming with the EFL’s financial fair play rules which Stoke City have battled against since relegation from the Premier League.

Stoke have been one of a number of Championship clubs who have been frustrated with the current system, which in simple terms puts a £13million-a-season limit on owner investment. Critics suggest that exacerbates a gulf between the top two divisions while parachute payments – handed to clubs in the first three seasons after relegation – also tip the playing field.

The club has readjusted its budgets to fall in line – going from an income of £127m in 2018 to £40m in 2021, including the final parachute payment of about £20m – but it is clear that joint-chairman Coates would like to be allowed to put in more money.

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“It’s no secret that we as a club think they are a deeply flawed set of rules,” he said in a Q&A with supporters.

“To give one example, you’ve got a situation where a club, in its first year after being relegated from the Premier League, will receive an income of £44m in parachute payments. That £44m counts as revenue in the P&S (EFL’s profit and sustainability) system.

“If a club is not in receipt of parachute payments and the owners invest something like £15m in equity, non-refundable, for P&S purposes that is not regarded as revenue. It’s a completely unfair playing field in trying to compete with the parachute payment clubs.

“That is just one example of the flaws of Profit and Sustainability.

“What I would say is that those are the rules that are in place at present and we have worked incredibly hard to try to ensure we remain within those rules – and at the same time try to provide as large a budget as we can for Michael (O’Neill) and his team to put out a competitive side for us to challenge for the play-offs.

“Another observation on the P&S is that the fan-led review looked at all the systems of financial regulation and looked at P&S and some other controls and they all indeed found them deeply flawed and suggested a different model. In addition, Uefa have also looked at the old P&S rules and found them deeply flawed and come up with their own new set of rules.

“My final observation would be that I believe change is coming. I believe there will be a new set of rules. What I can’t tell you at the moment is when that will be or exactly what form those rules will take but we’ve worked very hard to work within the current rules however flawed we might think they are. We have tried to ensure within those rules that we provide Michael and his team with as strong a budget as we possibly can.”

That budget has allowed for seven new signings so far this summer, with 17 players leaving who have had first team experience, and there is hope and expectation that O’Neill can sustain a charge in the top half this season.

Coates said: “I believe we can mount a strong push to be involved in the play-off conversation. That, I think, is a very realistic expectation. That’s what I want to happen. We want to be in and around the play-offs.”

He added: “The plan is always to have as successful a football club as we can possibly have. There are so many aspects of the club that we want to get right. We’ve got the commercial side, everyone knows what we’ve been doing with the academy but ultimately we are all judged on how we do as a first team. We want to be successful and we will do whatever is in our power to do that.

“After 10 years in the Premier League we have finished mid-table for all those seasons back in the Championship. Clearly that’s below where we’ve wanted to be and I can’t pretend it’s anything otherwise and I’m hugely disappointed that’s been the case. All I can tell you is that it’s our absolute desire and focus to change that, do better and mount a real challenge for the play-offs.”

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