League One side Wycombe Wanderers have been placed under a transfer embargo by the Football League. The move doesn't mean too much at this stage of the season given that the loan transfer window is now closed, although may mean something if they have any loan extensions on existing deals that they need to lodge at any given time.
Wycombe state that the issue has come about because they have failed to provide their 2010-11 club accounts to the Football League and Companies House by a March 31st deadline. They blame this on the fact that owner Steve Hayes is looking to sell his ownership in rugby union side London Wasps, with speculation that a deal will happen during the coming week.
Wycombe claim that the imminent sale has prevented them from finalising their budgets for the 2012-13 season, which must be provided to the Football League as part of general financial compliance measures. Where we're scratching our heads on this one is why that particular issue prevents the club from at least publishing the 2010-11 accounts, given that such past financial transactions for up to last June should not depend upon any future sale or budgeting.
The situation has been controversial enough for Wycombe Wanderers Trust (WWT) directors David Robertson and Don Woodward to tender their resignation from their main club board, although they will continue as directors of their Supporters Trust. WWT have issued a statement indicating that the failure to provide the accounts was a direct factor in their decision to step down:
"This decision, taken on Friday 30th March 2012, arose as a result of Wycombe Wanderers FCís failure to lodge its Financial Accounts for the year ending 30th June 2011 with Companies House by the end of March deadline. Such failure, coming as it does despite considerable efforts on their part to ensure compliance, rendered David and Donís positions untenable and resulted in their decision to resign from the main board."
Wycombe have insisted that "the matter will be resolved in the coming weeks" and that the embargo will have "no effect" on their fight against relegation from League One. They currently occupy the last of the relegation slots but are showing enough form on the pitch to suggest that they can escape. In six games time they will know their fate, and then doubtless their fans will know whether this embargo is a serious issue, or an organisational failure.
Another club worth keeping an eye on are Preston North End, who Yeovil Town leapfrogged over the weekend, albeit only by the number of goals scorered, with the Lilywhites in 16th place. The Lancashire side have been in freefall since new manager Graham Westley's arrival in mid-January, with just two wins and eight goals scored in his 15 matches in charge.
After they lost at Huish Park in January, Westley defended the task he had on his hands saying "They took 16 points in 13 games before I came here - they've now taken 12 points from his 15 games in charge, moving from 10th and five points off the play-offs upon his arrival, to 16th and 17 points away from those top six positions. More worrying is that their current relegation form under Westley has left them just six points away from the bottom four.
Over the past two months, he has stripped midfielder Paul Coutts of the captaincy, as well as being at the centre of two incidents relating to late night text messages sent to his team - although one allegation made by The Sun newspaper was later withdrawn. Last week, Westley admitted that there was a "split in the camp" - the weekend revelations appear to make that split a giant chasm following allegations that four of his squad had given Saturday lunchtime opponents Sheffield Wednesday their teamsheet the day before fixture - an unorthodox line-up that included ex-Glovers Max Ehmer and Aaron Brown as a left-winger and a striker respectively. The Owls won the game 2-0; not too shocking a result, but Westley's post-match views were certainly explosive as he made the dressing room leak public:
"To stand in the dugout today and be told by their dugout that four of our players had given our side across to them says where our side is at. You don't need four players from your own squad releasing that kind of information and I have to work on the basis that they wouldn't tell me a lie.
So to hear that at 5pm yesterday Sheffield Wednesday got that news shows you what we are up against but it doesn't surprise me. When you have got people in your own camp working against you it is tough, it is not an excuse and I am not complaining, it is the job and I will get on with it and I will overcome it and they are the type of barriers you have to jump over."
If all of this hadn't happened the day before April Fool's Day, we might have been giving this a double-take. The journey back over the Pennines on board the team coach on Saturday afternoon must have been an interesting one.
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