Derby County are unable to sign Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie on a pre-contract basis, because the English Championship side’s accounts are being probed by league bosses, according to reports.
The Rams are understood to be operating under a “soft transfer embargo” while the English Football League (EFL) look into the club’s financial dealings, leaving them unable to register any new players for the time being.
Under EFL spending rules, clubs are not permitted to post losses in excess of £39 million over a three-year period. If they do, they face action from the league.
Derby’s fellow Championship side Birmingham City were docked nine points last month for flouting the new rules but sources at Pride Park told the Telegraph that they have been “fully compliant” and don’t expect similar punishment.
Scotland international Shinnie held talks with Derby last week but a potential transfer is in limbo while the EFL looks into the club’s finances. County are unable to sign or register new players but insiders are hopeful the embargo will be lifted later this week, allowing manager Frank Lampard to announce the Dons skipper as his first signing ahead of the new campaign.
The news comes as Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson demanded the EFL probe the financial conduct of three Championship rivals, including Derby.
Gibson has urged the league to investigate Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday as well as the Rams over what he claims are breaches of financial regulations, and has called for a meeting of all Championship clubs next week.
The 61-year-old insists that Villa, Wednesday and Derby are trying to skirt the new rules by “unfair means”, according to the Telegraph, and said that while his own club have sold more than £40 million worth of players to balance the books, other clubs are avoiding having to do similar by “allocating some costs to stay in line”.
Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri conceded in January this year that the Owls could be placed under a second transfer embargo.
The Hillsborough side were hit with an embargo between April and August last year under the Profitability and Sustainability rules.
The club’s 2016/17 accounts saw them post a loss of more than £20 million - up £15 million on the previous year.
In a club statement in January, Chansiri said: “To make our situation 100 per cent clear, we are not under any kind of embargo right now.
“However, if our problems cannot be solved by March when we submit our accounts to the EFL, another soft embargo is inevitable.
“This will become a full embargo if again the problems cannot be solved at the end of the financial year.”