THE EFL wanted to relegate Sheffield Wednesday — but bungled their handling of the case.
An explosive report by an independent disciplinary commission explains why the Owls escaped with a Financial Fair Play penalty that was suspended until next season.
It went against the EFL’s push for a full 12 points to be stripped from Wednesday for going £18million above their limit during a three-year period.
Such a punishment would have put Wednesday in the Championship’s bottom three and saved Charlton from the drop.
Instead the IDC panel let off the Owls because the EFL took too long to bring charges — as well as pursuing the wrong case first.
The governing body initially wanted Wednesday officials to be sanctioned for their part in owner Dejphon Chansiri buying the Hillsborough stadium.
That case was dismissed and by the time their focus turned to the FFP offence, it was too late for them to handle it quickly.
The report said the penalty for the first breach should have been imposed before the end of the 2018-19 season. However, that would not have sent the club down in that campaign — so the EFL went after them in the season just ended.
Football chiefs also revealed they planned to dock points from Derby if they are found guilty of a similar offence and apply that penalty next season too.
The inconsistency in the EFL’s punishments has also been hammered in the report, which will be published tomorrow.
The commission felt the eventual Wednesday hearing was held so late, it would have been unfair to dock them points this season.
It said: “If the penalty had been applied at a very much earlier stage, the club would have had the opportunity to improve its position by performance. Because of the delayed hearing it will have been deprived of that opportunity.
“The evidence indicates that the club resumed with a reduced squad as some players would not play beyond June 30, leading to an under-strength team.
“This, in our view, is another factor to be borne in mind in assessing the fairness and proportionality of imposing the deduction.”
Wednesday will now start next season with the 12-point penalty. They can appeal after receiving the findings.
It will cause anger at Charlton, where they felt the Yorkshire club should have been relegated instead of them.