Corrupt or Inept?: Analysing the Premier League’s treatment of Everton points deduction

Everton have seen their initial 10-point deduction reduced to six on appeal, but does the overall process call into question the integrity of the Premier League?

Everton Football Fans React To Club's Financial Sanctions
Everton Football Fans React To Club's Financial Sanctions / Colin McPherson/GettyImages

It was revealed yesterday that Everton have had their 10-point deduction for a breach of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules reduced to six following an appeal.

The decision has seen the Toffees recredited four of the points they were previously deducted, which has lifted them to 15th in the Premier League table and five points clear of the relegation zone.

While this turnaround has left Everton in a more comfortable position in the league, it is far from a cause for celebration for the Toffees faithful and has raised more questions than answers over the Premier League’s treatment of the club.

What the Independent Appeal Board said

Everton put forward nine grounds for appeal to the sanction of which the board agreed with the club on two points.

The Independent Appeal Board found that the initial commission that imposed the 10-point deduction on the club had made “legal errors” in regard to the sanction.

These errors relate to the initial panel accusing Everton of being “less than frank” over what it told the Premier League about its new stadium debt, which the new panel disagreed on, and for failing to take into account available benchmarks set by the Premier League and the English Football League.

One of the benchmarks set by the Premier League was the nine-point deduction handed out to Portsmouth in 2010 when the club went into administration. The panel argued that the punishment handed out to Everton was disproportionate when compared to other sanctions.

The 10-point deduction, which was the largest punishment handed out in Premier League history, now being reduced to a 6-point deduction equates to a massive 40% reduction from the initial decision, which begs the question of how on earth the original panel came to their verdict in the first place?

Andy Burnham slams Premier League for their treatment of Everton

The mayor of Greater Manchester and Everton season ticket holder, Andy Burnham, has called for the Premier League to learn from the mistakes of this farcical ordeal and claimed that they have proved that they “can’t properly regulate football”.

Appearing on Sky News’ Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge on Monday, following the reduction of the punishment, Burnham said:

"The Premier League has proved, in my view, that they can't properly regulate football through the way it's treated Everton Football Club,

"We need a strong, independent statutory regulator for football, learning from all of the wrong things that have been done over recent weeks."

The cack-handed way the Premier League have dealt with Everton’s breach of financial regulations has created a preposterous situation towards the foot of the table where relegation-threatened clubs are continuously seeing the goalposts changing when it comes to their league position due to off-field issues.

Gary Neville spoke on Sky Sports on Monday and called for a change to the rules in order to deal with these sorts of discrepancies in a more measured and timely manner in the future:

"In a perfect world, you'd have a system where you could spot these things in real time and you wouldn't be looking back over a three-year period.

"A change in the rules is needed so they can keep the losses in-season and the punishments can be quite quick, and can be measured in real-time rather than waiting and then looking back.

"It's not satisfactory at the moment, the rules do need changing,”

Neville later stated:

"We can't have this sort of situation hanging over a run-in, it's too important for these teams who are involved in these types of battles."

Everton facing a second possible charge

Despite Everton’s punishment being reduced yesterday, the Toffees’ fight is far from over with a potential second charge looming over their heads after it was revealed that they had been found in breach of the rules again in January.

But, as pointed out by Andy Burnham, this seems to equate to double jeopardy for the Blues as the timeline for the second charge overlaps with the first charge, for which Everton has already been punished for.

Burnham said:

"There's been some recognition today that it wasn't fair. We take that, but they're trying to place a second charge on Everton. And I would say isn't that double jeopardy to try and take another process against us for the same thing?

"The club isn't being treated fairly. I can only speak to you as a season ticket holder and you don't feel like you can celebrate a goal because you think VAR is going to rule it out."

He added:
"You're just kind of feeling all the time that the authorities are sort of trying to undermine the club. It doesn't feel fair."

Alongside Everton, Nottingham Forest were also found guilty of breaching the PSR rules in January and are set to appear in front of an Independent Commission by the end of next week.

However, both clubs are not expected to find out their punishments for these latest charges until mid-April, which they could then appeal against. A date of the 24th of May has been set by the Premier League for the hearing and appeal process to be concluded, which means there is a strong chance that the season could end with clubs not knowing what their final league position is and whether or not they have been relegated. That is simply ludicrous!

Do the Premier League have any integrity left?

The Premier League’s approach to these breaches of the PSR rules is clearly not fit for purpose and has left the lower half of the table in a farcical mess.

Couple this with the investigation into Manchester City’s 115 alleged breaches of the league’s financial rules being shrouded in mystery and you can’t help but start questioning the Premier League’s integrity when it comes to their rules and regulations.

The league’s Chief Executive Richard Masters revealed in January that a date for Manchester City’s hearing had been set, but refused to reveal exactly when this would be. What does the Premier League have to hide?

Do the Premier League have ulterior motives depending on which club they are investigating or are they simply a severely inept organisation?

Either way, the treatment of Everton and the ongoing uncertainty over the season has called into question the integrity of the Premier League and something drastic needs to change if they are to claw back the trust of not just Everton fans, but fans of football as a whole.