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Will Rochdale AFC have points deducted? What the football club’s ‘unprecedented’ charge could mean

Football league bosses have accused Rochdale AFC of breaking the rules with weeks to go until the end of the season. The League Two side are currently nine points clear of local rivals Oldham Athletic in the relegation zone, with just 11 games remaining.

Yesterday’s announcement left Rochdale AFC fans fearful of an EFL points deduction, with other clubs facing similar penalties in recent years. And if the deduction comes this season, it could send the team into relegation trouble – while helping to hold on to the Latics.

But what is the probability of a points deduction for Dale? The EFL have issued several similar penalties in recent years against teams such as Derby County, Reading and Wigan Athletic.

READ MORE: Police launch investigation as ‘shot’ fired at Rochdale home

Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City have also benefited from point deductions in recent years, while Luton Town were pegged at 30 points in 2008-09. Yet Rochdale’s situation is completely different.

What’s going on in Spotland?

Rochdale AFC have been charged with alleged breaches of EFL regulations, following an investigation into the acquisition of club shares by Morton House in July 2021. A number of ‘other people’ have also been charged.

It is alleged that Morton House acquired shares in the football club without EFL approval through the owners and directors test. In August 2021, it is claimed that the club subsequently withdrew from the EFL approval process and Morton House shares were divested.

The football club claimed in September 2021 that there had been ‘no contact’ between the club and Morton House and announced they would be assisting the EFL with their investigation. However, the EFL believe Rochdale AFC’s actions constitute misconduct, and a charge was brought yesterday.

The EFL told the Manchester Evening News he had not dealt with cases similar to Rochdale’s before, so any punishment the club receives will set a new precedent. Point deductions given to other teams have been for issues such as administration and Financial Fair Play violations.

Some Dale fans have suggested the accusation could mean the club is being punished for the actions of individuals who are no longer involved. However, the unique nature of the club’s situation means that a points deduction is not necessarily guaranteed, and supporters are hoping the team can avoid such a penalty.

What the EFL said

In a statement issued yesterday (16 March), an EFL spokesperson said: “Following the conclusion of an investigation into the acquisition of Rochdale AFC shares by Morton House, the EFL has charged the club and a number of other people for alleged breaches of EFL regulations.

“The EFL has reviewed whether the club, any official, any relevant person and/or any other person involved has complied with the requirements of the regulations regarding the acquisition of club shares in July 2021.

“After thoroughly considering the relevant issues, the EFL has now determined that there is sufficient evidence to warrant the issuance of various misconduct charges. The multiple cases will now be referred to an independent disciplinary panel and, being as they are the subject of ongoing proceedings, the EFL will make no further comment.”

What Rochdale AFC said

A Rochdale AFC spokesperson said: “Rochdale Association Football Club was today (Wednesday) charged with breaches of EFL regulations. The club have co-operated fully with the EFL at every stage of their investigation. and will continue to do so, having already provided the EFL with a considerable volume of their evidence.

“The club will now review their legal position in relation to the charges. No further comment will be made at this time.”