Everton in trouble: How the Premier League’s biggest points penalty affects the club

Everton fans were left stunned and dismayed on November 17, 2023, when the Premier League announced that the club had been deducted 10 points for breaching the profit and sustainability rules (PSR). The decision, which was made by an independent commission after a five-day hearing in October, dropped the Toffees from 14th to 19th in the table, leaving them in the relegation zone with only four points from 12 games.

The PSR, which are similar to the UEFA’s financial fair play rules, limit the amount of losses that clubs can incur over a three-year period. According to the Premier League, Everton’s PSR calculation for the relevant period resulted in a loss of £124.5m, which exceeded the threshold of £105m permitted under the rules. The commission concluded that a sporting sanction in the form of a 10-point deduction was appropriate, and that it would take immediate effect.

Everton, who have been under the ownership of Farhad Moshiri since 2016, have spent heavily in recent years to try to compete with the top clubs in the league. However, their investments have not paid off on the pitch, as they have failed to qualify for any European competitions since 2017. The club have also faced challenges in securing a naming rights deal for their new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock, which is expected to cost around £500m.

Everton have expressed their shock and disappointment at the ruling, and have announced their intention to appeal against the decision. The club have claimed that they have a number of mitigating factors, such as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the withdrawal of a lucrative sponsorship deal with Alisher Usmanov’s holding company USM, and the accounting treatment of their stadium project. The club have also argued that the PSR are unfair and inconsistent, and that they have been singled out for punishment.

The reaction from the sports media and the wider football community has been mixed. Some analysts have sympathized with Everton’s plight, and have questioned the validity and transparency of the PSR. For example, Jamie Carragher, a former Liverpool player and now a pundit for Sky Sports, said that he felt sorry for Everton and that the PSR were “a joke”. He added that the rules were “designed to protect the big six clubs and stop anyone else from challenging them” .

Others, however, have criticized Everton’s management and spending, and have suggested that the club deserved the penalty. For instance, Gary Neville, a former Manchester United player and now a co-owner of Salford City, said that Everton had been “reckless and irresponsible” and that they had “gambled with their future”. He also said that the PSR were “necessary and sensible” to ensure the financial stability and competitiveness of the league .

The implications of the points deduction for Everton and the rest of the league are significant. Everton, who have already sacked their manager Rafael Benitez after a poor start to the season, now face a tough battle to avoid relegation. The club have appointed Duncan Ferguson as their interim boss, and are reportedly looking for a permanent replacement. The club have also been linked with a potential takeover by 777 Partners, a US private investment firm, but the deal could be affected by the outcome of the appeal.

The other clubs in the bottom half of the table, such as Luton Town, Sheffield United, and Burnley, will see the points deduction as an opportunity to boost their survival chances. The clubs that were relegated in the past two seasons, such as Leeds United, Leicester City, and Southampton, will also be closely monitoring the situation, as they have threatened to sue Everton for damages if the charges are upheld. They have argued that Everton’s breach of the PSR gave them an unfair advantage and affected the outcome of the relegation battle.

The Premier League, meanwhile, will be hoping that the appeal process will be swift and conclusive, and that the integrity and reputation of the league will not be tarnished by the controversy. The league has defended its PSR as a “robust and fair” system that promotes “the long-term health and sustainability of the game”. The league has also stated that it will not comment further on the matter until the appeal is resolved.

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