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How Nottingham Forest’s points deduction appeal will affect the relegation battle

Here comes another week plagued by the anxiety-inducing agony of waiting.

For the three clubs still in the relegation battle – Nottingham Forest, Luton Town and Burnley – the former’s ongoing appeal against a four-point deduction for breaching the Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR) leaves them trapped in Premier League purgatory.

Five points currently separate the three sides, with Burnley’s recent revival leaving them on 24 points, behind Luton on 26, with Forest putting distance between themselves and the danger zone with Saturday’s win over Sheffield United.

If Forest were to concede one or even two points back at the appeal, it would have significant consequences with just two games each remaining.

How does Forest’s pending appeal affect the relegation battle?

Imagine you’re running a race with a potential £100 million prize, but you’re not sure where the finish line is.

How hard do you push and how early? How do you pace yourself? How do you find the motivation to keep running when you think you have nothing else left? What keeps you going when you don’t know what you’re aiming for?

This is where Burnley, Luton and Forest find themselves until the appeal verdict is announced.

And even then, by the time they find out where the line is, it may already be too late. Maybe they already ran too hard or not hard enough. That’s £100 million.

As Vincent Kompany, Rob Edwards and Nuno Espirito Santo have explained, this can have a massive psychological impact on players and staff.

Speaking last Thursday, Nuno said: “Unfortunately, we haven’t heard yet. We expect, but not yet.

“It is very difficult. We have been dealing with this situation for some time.

“We all expected the decision to come early, so we are aware and know exactly how many points we have. Do we have 30, 29, 28, 27? We need it as soon as possible. These are the things the club is dealing with, not us.

“Thirty (points) would be fantastic because that’s what the players achieved on the pitch. I totally agree, it’s a mess, they’ve had enough time.

“It’s a mess, it’s very difficult not just for us but for the whole league, especially the clubs that are involved in the points deduction. It’s very hard to deal with that.”

And the pressure all this uncertainty is putting on Forest was evident, as shown by their spectacular outburst on social media after their 2-0 defeat to Everton.

The club’s management believed that bringing in Mark Clattenburg as refereeing analyst could help them in their quest for survival, but the former official resigned on Friday.

Still, while none of this is ideal for Forest, it is ultimately a situation of their own making. However, Luton and Burnley are unexceptional victims, both trying to do the seemingly impossible at various points this season.

This is just another barrier in their way, one that continues to hinder any hope they have of securing Premier League survival. They are still running, but not knowing when this race will end, they are slowly losing confidence.

What could happen in Forest’s FFP points deduction appeal?

The most likely outcome here is that nothing changes.

Forest’s original case was fought by Nick De Marco KC, Britain’s leading sports lawyer, and he will leave no stone unturned in the original case.

This means that unless the appeals committee sees the information presented very differently, Forest are unlikely to get points back.

And unlike Forest’s original case, there is no strict deadline for the appeal panel to issue a verdict until the Premier League’s rejection date of May 24.

So while Forest have been hoping and waiting to hear the result over the past week, they are still none the wiser if they find out this week.

This means that it is entirely possible for their case to go into the final week of the season, although the most likely date for the verdict to be revealed now is Monday 6th May.

What do Forest, Luton and Burnley need to avoid relegation?

With five points separating the three sides and just enough space on the floating door for one of them, anything could happen from here.

This is exacerbated by Burnley hosting Forest on the final day of the season. If nothing changes between now and then, this could come down to a winner-takes-all clash at Turf Moor.

Forest face a tough task when they host in-form Chelsea on the penultimate weekend before the all-important Burnley clash.

Between now and then, the Clarets visit Tottenham, a theoretically tough game against volatile opposition.

But Burnley are in the best form of the relegation-threatened trio, having lost just two of their last nine games. In that time they have beaten Brentford and Sheffield United, while holding West Ham, Chelsea, Brighton and Manchester United to draws.

This saw them cut an eight-point deficit to two, although a heavy defeat to Newcastle squandered what looked like a very strong position to survive.

Meanwhile, Luton drew with Everton on Friday night before they visit out-of-form West Ham and host Fulham on the beach on the final day of the season.

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