Everton has fallen into the relegation zones
The decision of an independent commission to dock Everton ten points for violating Premier League rules on financial matters could have a seismic impact, with the effects felt far beyond Goodison.
Everton’s stunned fans can take comfort in the knowledge that they know what to expect. While the harshness of the punishment may have shocked many, the danger is that it could get worse.
Everton faces a number of questions, including whether or the point deduction would ultimately lead to the club’s relegation.
It is important to note that, according to the chairman of the Commission, he felt “satisfied”, that rival clubs have “potential claims for compensation”.
Leicester City, Leeds United and Burnley are all reportedly pushing ahead with their plans to sue Everton in order to recover millions of pounds worth of damages. The clubs have one month to decide whether they want to pursue the matter.
This is not the first instance of a similar scenario. In 2009, West Ham paid Sheffield United an estimated PS20m as compensation after a lengthy legal dispute regarding Carlos Tevez’s eligibility. United filed a lawsuit after they were relegated, instead of Tevez’s Hammers.
It is not clear whether clubs will proceed to litigation, if they are successful and how this may affect the proposed Everton sale of owner Farhad Mohiri’s shares to US investment company 777 Partners. The Toffees could face a doomsday situation if they are ordered to pay compensation that is more than their new owners can afford. This would lead to administration and a nine-point deduction.
The sense of chaos does not end there.
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The ruling is made at a moment when other clubs’ finances are being scrutinized.
Chelsea is being investigated both by the Premier League as well as the FA for possible financial rules breaches during Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
Manchester City, the most dominant team in football at the time, was hit earlier this year with 115 charges over alleged financial rule violations. The two deny any wrongdoing.
After Everton was punished for a single charge, some are wondering what sanction other clubs might face. They may be facing expulsion or 30-point deductions.
In rugby three years ago, the forced relegation of Saracens from the Premiership due to their violation of salary cap regulations sent shockwaves throughout the sport. Can something similar happen in soccer?
Due to the complexity and scale of these cases it may take years for them to be resolved.
It is evident that Everton’s ruling has increased the pressure and intrigue surrounding the Premier League regulatory process.
The reputation of the Premier League is not enhanced by the fact that many Everton supporters and pundits believe that the club has become an easy target. An independent football regulator,, will soon be in place.
Everton believes that the highest points deducted in league history for an overspend of PS19m is also excessive. Everton insists that a number of unexpected circumstances were a reasonable way to mitigate such losses. They compare the 10-point penalty with the PS3.5m fines imposed on the six English clubs who were part of the European Super League plot (ESL), in 2021.
Of course, the Premier League will deny that Everton was singled out and insist that it is an independent panel that has decided on the penalty.
The profit and sustainability regulations are seen by many as a good thing, there to stop clubs from living above their means. It is time that they became enforced following years of critics who said that the league had been too “hands off” when it comes to controlling owners and spending levels. The commission will be particularly concerned if a club’s breach is “serious”, and their culpability “great”, as per the report.
The Premier League will be praised by clubs that adhered to the rules and for its commitment in upholding the rules.
The fallout from the division and discord that could follow would be very painful.
It was said that the table does not lie. The league table is a good indicator of a team’s quality. This is crucial to the credibility of any sport, but especially the one that’s the most popular around the globe.
This season in the Premier League, the sense of justice and fairness has been shattered by the crisis of confidence that the officiating is experiencing amid the high-profile mistakes made by the VAR system.
What if the fate of teams is now more often determined by accountants’ calculations, lawyers’ arguments and commission verdicts than the performance of players? What if the past successes of years ago are now marred by rules-breaking and doubts are cast on titles and relegation fights? What happens if the trust has been eroded?
Two-years after the ESL’s remarkable breakaway, there is a fear that Everton could be the beginning of yet another period of turmoil, litigation and infighting for English football.