Why are Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers suing Derby County? - Legal claim explained

Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers have both launched claims against Derby County over their breaches of the EFL's profit and sustainability rules.

Following a lengthy statement on the situation at Derby from the EFL on Monday night, Middlesbrough clarified their position over the claim they have launched against the Pride Park outfit on Tuesday.

Why are Middlesbrough suing Derby?

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Middlesbrough's claim, which was previously reported to be worth over £40m, is based on the outcome of the 2018-19 Championship season as Derby finished one place and one point ahead of Boro to pip them to a play-off place. They beat Leeds United in the play-off semi-final before losing to Aston Villa in final at Wembley.

The Rams were docked nine points in November over a breach of the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules during the 2018-19 season.

That took their deductions this campaign to 21 points, after they had already been docked 12 points for entering administration.

Middlesbrough - and Wycombe, who have lodged a claim of a "similar nature" according to the EFL - first launched their claim in May 2019 but said several delays out of their control mean nothing has been settled.

What have Middlesbrough said?

CLAIM: Middlesbrough have launched action against Derby County over their breaches of EFL profit and sustainability rules. Picture: Getty Images.

Middlesbrough's statement - which can be accessed in full HERE - accused Derby of "cheating" as they finished sixth in the Championship in 2018-19.

A key part of their statement read: "MFC allege Derby County and its directors systematically cheated under the P&S Rules and that such cheating affects the integrity of the competition. At least two clubs, namely Middlesbrough and Wycombe, were directly affected by the cheating, albeit in different seasons.

"In simple terms so far as MFC is concerned, had Derby County not cheated, MFC would have been in the play-offs. However, Derby County did cheat and, as a result, MFC lost the opportunities that arise as result of that."

On the sum of the claim, Middlesbrough denied that the reported £40m valuation is accurate, with the statement adding: "MFC has made clear that it does not wish to see Derby County fall into liquidation, and that MFC is happy to be realistic in its expectations in order for Derby County to exit administration."

POINTS DOCKED: Derby were deducted nine points for breaches of the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules in November. Picture: Getty Images.

Are Middlesbrough and Wycombe's claims preventing Derby from being sold and what have the EFL said?

The EFL have said that the current bidders for Derby "appear unwilling to assume the risk of defending" the claims brought forward by Middlesbrough and Wycombe. While the administrators at Derby, according to Middlesbrough, have raised the same point.

Middlesbrough have contested this, arguing in their statement: "There is a certain inconsistency to the arguments presented by the administrators. On the one hand, it is said that there is no prospect of the claim succeeding, in which case there is no risk for a new owner.

"But, on the other hand, the administrator apparently cannot find a new owner because they will not proceed without the claim being settled due, presumably, to the fact that it has merit and might succeed."

However, despite the clear disagreements between the parties, the EFL are keen to resolve the issue.

A statement from the governing body on Monday night read: "The EFL is keen to try and resolve the current impasse. The EFL invited each of the Administrators, Middlesbrough FC, and Wycombe Wanderers to make submissions on this point last week, and we are now in the process of reviewing those submissions with a view to identifying a route to resolve the conflict which exists between the respective positions of, on the one hand, Derby County, and on the other Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers."

What does it all mean?

In simple terms, Middlesbrough are unhappy with Derby's breaches of the profit and sustainability rules as they believe they have been negatively impacted by them and in turn want to recover some of the finances they feel they have lost due to their seventh-placed finish in 2018-19.

They want their claim to be heard and protected under the Insolvency Policy and they strongly believe the claim has merit while the EFL said Derby consider it to be "spurious".

Given the number of disagreements between the parties, the EFL have stepped in to try and assist with resolving the issue.

The EFL's full statement on the matter can be read HERE.