Coventry, Luton and Cardiff have all insisted they have fallen foul of an administrative anomaly after confirming they have been handed transfer embargoes by the English Football League.
All three clubs said they had been given an extended deadline to submit their financial accounts to Companies House due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the EFL has not replicated this.
Each club issued a statement on Tuesday morning reassuring fans that the punishment was purely “administrative” and would not affect planned summer transfer activity.
A Coventry statement read: “Coventry City can confirm that it has been placed under a transfer embargo by the EFL.
“The Government, due to the coronavirus crisis, allowed companies to extend the deadline to file company accounts by three months and Coventry City chose to take up this option.
“Unfortunately the EFL has decided not to replicate this extension within their own rules, which surprises us as they have amended a number of other rules due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Coventry said they will be submitting their accounts within three months of the end if February “as required by Companies House” and that the transfer embargo will then be removed.
The statement added: “This is purely an administrative embargo imposed by the EFL. This has no effect on the day-to-day running of the club or its finances, and will have no effect on planned transfer activity in the upcoming transfer window.”
Sky Blues chief executive Dave Boddy labelled the situation “disappointing” and said it was “ridiculous” that the EFL’s regulations did not replicate the Government’s approach.
Luton said in a statement: “Our first embargo for a decade is simply an anomaly brought about by an unsynchronised timing of financial reports due to the pandemic.
“The club’s 2019/20 accounts, whilst finalised, have yet to be signed off by our auditors which will be done well before the statutory deadline.”
The Hatters added: “Companies House provided an extension of the statutory filing deadline to June to create sufficient time to complete this additional work accurately. Indeed, the club will publish unqualified accounts before the end of April.
“However, EFL rules couldn’t be adjusted to meet the Companies House extension and require that signed accounts still needed to be submitted in March, which the club was unable to achieve. The matter will be resolved as our auditors conclude the report in the next couple of weeks.
“We would like to reassure all of our supporters that this situation will not affect any of the club’s plans for the summer transfer window, which does not open until the end of the current season, and makes no difference to the day-to-day running of the club currently.”
Cardiff said they will be submitting their accounts to the EFL before the end of April and that the embargo would then be lifted.
The Bluebirds’ statement added: “The club can assure supporters that this is part of an administrative process imposed by the EFL. It has no bearing on the day-to-day running of the club, nor its finances or sustainability. It will not affect us trading in the summer 2021 transfer window.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the British government extended the deadline for companies to submit company accounts to Companies House by three months. The club chose to take this option, in the knowledge that a short term EFL embargo would be imposed.”
A newspaper report suggested 10 Sky Bet Championship clubs have been handed transfer embargoes by the EFL.
When approached by the PA news agency on Tuesday, the EFL said it does not confirm the names of any clubs placed under embargoes.