Everton have appealed against the Premier League’s imposition of a 10-point penalty for breaching its “profit and sustainability” rule. But the punishment which dropped them next to the foot of the table has much wider ramifications.
Angry fan protests are expected when Everton host Manchester United on Sunday. Fan groups acknowledge bad management by British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri but consider the punishment out of proportion to offences which the club has mostly admitted.
Specific factors include the accounting of interest payments on the club’s new stadium as well as an over-estimation of financial damage from the Covid pandemic. Then came the fall-out from government sanctions against Russian-Uzbek sponsor Alisher Usmanov. That cost Everton 15 sponsorship deals with his companies as well as a promised £200m naming rights deal for their new home.
The overall result was a commission ruling that “Everton’s PSR calculation for the relevant period resulted in a loss of £124.5m, as contended by the Premier League, which exceeded the permitted threshold of £105m.”
Previously only three Premier clubs had suffered points penalties: Middlesbrough were deducted three for failing to fulfil a fixture against Blackburn in 1996-97 then Portsmouth were stripped of nine after entering administration in March 2010. Tottenham were handed a 12-point deduction in 1994 for financial irregularities but that punishment was eventually quashed.
Everton may also face £100m compensation claims from at least four recently-relegated clubs: Leicester, Leeds, Burnley and Southampton.
“SHOCKED AND DISAPPOINTED”
An Everton statement said: “Everton Football Club is both shocked and disappointed by an unjust sporting sanction.” Fan groups issued their own joint statement. This said: “It is no secret that our club has been run incompetently for several years now. We understand the need for rules to be followed but this punishment only punishes the fans, players and management team.”
The punishment must be seen in a wider context. Last week the government confirmed its intention to appoint an independent regulator of business standards in football. The Premier League hopes to hold the regulator at bay by demonstrating that its own rules now have sharper teeth.
Manchester City and Chelsea also face investigations into alleged breaches of financial fair play rules. If proved, and judging by the Everton verdict, both clubs risk a 30-point deduction or automatic relegation.
Chelsea were already under investigation over rule breaches between 2012 and 2019 before the emergence this week of new claims about how millions of pounds were routed through offshore companies belonging to former owner Roman Abramovich. Possible beneficiaries named by a media investigation included the agent of Eden Hazard, an associate of manager Antonio Conte and Chelsea FC officials.
Earlier this year, Chelsea were fined £8.6m by UEFA for breaching FFP regulations during the oligarch’s ownership.
Champions City have denied 115 charges. These include failing to set out full details of players’ and managers’ pay deals. The complexity of the case means no ruling is expected until late next year at the earliest.
Credit: AIPS Media