Top 11 football clubs to have suffered points deductions
The league table doesn’t lie. or so the saying goes. But the final tallies of wins draws and losses don’t always tell the entire story. Just as a two-footed tackle or swift elbow will be punished by the sport’s authorities, clubs can expect the same when they step out of line. Often, the sentences handed down by those in charge can cause great uproar indeed, as can the crimes and misdemeanours that provoke those punishments.
Here are the top 11 football clubs to have suffered points deductions:
10. Middlesbrough – 3 Points
In December 1996, Middlesbrough were set to play a Premier League game against Blackburn Rovers, but there was one problem: they didn’t have a fit team. Manager Bryan Robson decided to call the game off and they lost three crucial points by forfeiting the game. After the end of the season, they finished in 19th position and were relegated.
10. Everton – 10 points
Premier League’s Everton become the latest club to be included in the list of clubs to have suffered points deductions. The Toffees were deduced 10 points during the 2023-24 season for a breach of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. Everton put out a statement after the points deduction that they are “shocked and disappointed” by the ruling and have vowed to appeal.
9. Juventus – 10 Points
Juventus are no stranger to scandal. The Old Lady found themselves in hot water over potential wrongdoings linked to their transfer activity. Prosecutors had asked for a more significant punishment. The deduction meant that they finished in seventh place and qualified for the Conference League instead of the Champions League, though they were booted out of the competition by UEFA.
8. Crystal Palace – 10 Points
In January 2010, Championship side Crystal Palace were handed a ten-point deduction from the total they had already picked up that season, which meant they went from comfortably mid-table straight into a relegation battle. The deduction was due to the club going into administration after chairman Simon Jordan failed to find new investment.
Manager Neil Warnock left his job just over a month later and was replaced by Paul Hart, whose tenure saw the club survive relegation on the final day of the season, the Eagles managed to stave off relegation by the skin of their teeth thanks to a final-day draw away to Sheffield Wednesday.
7. Leeds United – 15 Points
Following relegation from the Championship the season before, Leeds United were knocked for six when they were deducted 15 points before their League One campaign began. The reason for the deduction was that the club had exited administration ‘incorrectly’ in the summer. However, the team responded brilliantly to the setback, and the deficit had been eliminated after just seven games. Leeds made it to the play-off final that season, where they lost to Doncaster Rovers.
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6. Bournemouth – 17 Points
In the week leading up to the 2008-09 League Two season, Bournemouth learned that they were to start the campaign on -17 points. In the immediate aftermath of Quinn’s exit, a young Eddie Howe took temporary charge of the club and seemed to get something out of the players that his predecessor couldn’t in the process. In what was undeniably a huge gamble, the club decided to give Howe, then only 31, the job permanently.
The South Coast side managed to catch up on their deduction and amass a further 46 points to stay up by nine points. The Cherries followed up this achievement by securing promotion to League One in second place the following season.
5. Genoa – 18 Points
According to the former Genoa striker Carlo Petrini, whose autobiography, Down in the Mud with the football god, gives an insight into the murky world, match-fixing was commonplace in Italian football in the 1960s and ‘70s. Genoa got ahead of the game when they had a whopping 18 points lopped off for bribery in 1960, with another ten (later reduced to seven) reserved for the 1960-61 campaign.
4. Luton Town – 30 Points
Currently plying their trade in the Premier League Luton Town suffered the biggest points deduction in English Football League history back in 2008-09. Ultimately, the club had to start the season with a massive deficit of 30 points to their name, and while they did succumb to relegation, they picked up 13 wins and 56 points along the way, which should have been good enough for 15th place. Since then, it has only been positive for Luton, as they are playing in the top division.
3. Lazio – 30 Points
The Calciopoli scandal is arguably the most prominent footballing scandal since the turn of the millennium. While the whole situation was quite complex, the gist of it was that several high-profile clubs in Italian football were accused of attempting to get favourable decisions from the referees ahead of their games. Lazio was one of three teams to be docked a whopping 30 points for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal.
2. Florentina – 30 Points
Fiorentina faced the same punishment as Lazio for their involvement in the whole debacle, losing 30 points from their end-of-season tally and seeing their impressive fourth-place finish turn into mid-table mediocrity. They also lost their Champions League spot.
1. AC Milan – 30 Points
The final club to get a severe punishment for the whole affair was AC Milan, with the Rossoneri receiving the same 30-point punishment that had been dished out to Lazio and Fiorentina. This deduction saw them fall from a comfortable second place down to third, though it meant that city rivals Inter leapfrogged them into first and were awarded the title in place of Juventus. The following season they had another eight points taken off to complete their punishment.