UNPAID invoices to Sunderland regarding the loan of Jay Matete almost landed Oxford United a transfer window fee ban.

The U’s have been fined £3,500 and given a suspended one-transfer window fee restriction, but it could have been far worse if not for a successful appeal.

On June 12, the English Football League notified United that it had impose a three-window fee restriction on the club after breaching EFL Regulation 52.6.3. Two days later, the club launched an appeal against the sanction.

READ ALSO: Oxford United fined and given suspended transfer window fee ban

In a document published on the EFL website, it states that on March 6, Deborah Elliot, an assistant financial accountant at Sunderland, emailed ‘Invoice 76511’ to U’s club secretary Vanessa Gomm, with regard to the contribution to Matete’s wages for February 2024.

Gomm, who is not the usual point of contact for invoicing at United, forwarded the invoice on the same day, to Carlos Power, head of finance at the club, and the invoicing team.

Five days later, Elliot emailed ‘Invoice 76519’ to Gomm with regard to Matete’s bonuses for February. Gomm forwarded that invoice to the club invoicing team on the same day.

On April 5, Elliot emailed ‘Invoice 76558’ to Gomm for Matete’s March wages. Elliot’s email also asked for ‘a payment date for Invoices 76511 and 76519 as these are now overdue’. On the same day, Gomm forwarded Invoice 76558 and Elliot’s request to Power and the invoicing team.

Then, on May 3, Elliot emailed ‘Invoice 76595’ to Gomm for Matete’s April wages. The email also stated ‘we have noted that you have not paid any invoices to date, can you please confirm a payment date or reason for non-payment as these are meant to be made within 14 days as per contract’. On the same day, Gomm forwarded Invoice 76595 to Power and the invoicing team.

On June 7, Elliot emailed ‘Invoice 76633’ to Gomm and asked ‘could you please advise a payment date for all of our other invoices as we have not received one payment from you since the start of Jay’s loan?’. On the same day, Gomm forwarded the email to Power.

The same day, Chris Pickford, a finance and payroll officer at the EFL, wrote to the U’s, informing the club that loan wages to Sunderland were owed. The email was addressed to Gomm, Power, accounts assistant Darius Jules and chief executive Tim Williams.

Immediately following receipt of the email, Williams instructed United’s finance team to make full payment to Sunderland. The payment was completed within 30 minutes of the U’s receiving the email, and Williams personally approved the payment.

The decision of the disciplinary commission document states that United ‘acknowledged and addressed the breach as soon as it was notified’, adding that other than emails to Gomm, Sunderland hadn’t previously attempted to contact the U’s at a higher level.

Five days later, the club was notified that because of the delay in paying Sunderland’s invoices, United were automatically subject to the transfer window fee restriction because the failure to pay invoices triggered EFL rules. The debt had totalled £63,680.34.

A transfer window fee restriction refers to payment for a permanent transfer or loan, but as it’s suspended, the U’s can go about their summer and future transfer window business as usual, unless of course the club breaches the rules again.

Matete was signed on loan on January deadline day, but made just six appearances, before a knee injury cut short his season at the end of March.