KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Everton had expected bad news when the Premier League passed judgment on their financial muddle. What they received was much worse: an immediate 10-point penalty which crashed them down into the relegation zone.

Manager Sean Dyche’s team now sit second-bottom, with only goal difference separating them from Burnley in 20th. Their next match after the international break will be at home to Manchester United on November 26.

The heaviest points punishment in Premier League history left the Goodison club “shocked” and promising an appeal. A significant factor in their breach of the league’s profit and sustainability rule was understood to relate to the interest payments on the cost of building the club’s new stadium.

Nothing but the best is good enough . . . Premier judgment was the worst

The case had been considered by an independent commission which reported that the club had admitted a breach, during a five-day hearing, but claimed extenuating circumstances including Covid pandemic complications and one previous agreement over the classification of loans from owner Farhad Moshiri. Everton’s majority shareholder is negotiating a sale of the club to 777 Partners.

Everton’s financial situation was also damaged by the sanctions which removed the financial support of Russian-Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov and sponsorship of his companies.

On top of 15 commercial deals with USM, Everton lost a £200m naming rights deal for the Bramley Moore dock stadium. This would have been activated once planning permission was granted.

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 threshold of £105m permitted under the PSRs.”

Precedents

Previously only three Premier clubs had been docked points – Middlesbrough were deducted three for failing to fulfil a fixture against Blackburn in 1996-97, and Portsmouth were stripped of nine after entering administration in March 2010.

Tottenham were handed a 12-point deduction before the 1994/95 season for financial irregularities committed several seasons earlier but that punishment was initially reduced to six points and eventually quashed.

On top of the 15 commercial deals they had with USM, they lost a naming rights deal for the new stadium at Bramley Moore dock worth £200m. This would have been activated once planning permission was granted.

Everton may also face compensation claims from rivals who were relegated from the Premier League during the period from 2019 to 2022 in which Everton were found to have broken the rules. Aggrieved clubs plan to sue for up to about £100 million each.

Statement

An Everton statement said: “Everton Football Club is both shocked and disappointed by the ruling of the Premier League’s commission. The club believes that the commission has imposed a wholly disproportionate and unjust sporting sanction.

“The club has already communicated its intention to appeal the decision to the Premier League. The appeal process will now commence and the club’s case will be heard by an appeal board appointed pursuant to the Premier League’s rules in due course.

“Everton maintains that it has been open and transparent in the information it has provided to the Premier League and that it has always respected the integrity of the process.

“The club does not recognise the finding that it failed to act with the utmost good faith and it does not understand this to have been an allegation made by the Premier League during the course of proceedings.

“Both the harshness and severity of the sanction imposed by the commission are neither a fair nor a reasonable reflection of the evidence submitted.

“The club will also monitor with great interest the decisions made in any other cases concerning the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.

“Everton cannot comment on this matter any further until the appeal process has concluded.”

Fans’ fury

Everton’s fan groups issued a collective statement, saying: “Whilst we understand the need for rules to be followed and standards upheld, this punishment only punishes the fans, players and management team.

“It’s no secret that our club has been run incompetently at the top for several years now. The fans took it upon themselves to push for change and force the removal of an underperforming board that broke your rules. The people who broke your rules are not the ones suffering.”

Everton’s note about “decisions made in any other cases” refers to Manchester City, who were charged with 115 breaches in February, with the case still outstanding.

The period under review came when Denise Barrett-Baxendale was chief executive, although it is understood that neither she nor the former chief finance and strategy officer, Grant Ingles, gave evidence on the club’s behalf during the hearing.

Barrett-Baxendale and Ingles resigned as directors at the end of last season having been the focus of mounting protests from Everton supporters against the running of the club.

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