LONDON (AP) — Everton was handed the biggest sporting sanction in the Premier League’s 31-year history on Friday for breaching the competition’s financial rules, with the deduction of 10 points dropping the team into next-to-last place in the standings.
The club was found by an independent commission to have made a loss of 124.5 million pounds ($155 million) over three years up to the end of the 2021-22 season. The league’s profit and financial sustainability rules allow clubs to lose a maximum of 105 million pounds ($130 million) over a three-year period or face sanctions.
The punishment means Everton falls from 14 points to four with immediate effect. That’s the same number of points as last-place Burnley, with Everton only higher because of its superior goal difference.
Everton, which is planning to move to a new stadium for the start of the 2025-26 season, said it was “shocked and disappointed” by the ruling and will be appealing.
“The club believes that the commission has imposed a wholly disproportionate and unjust sporting sanction,” Everton said.
“The club,” it added, “does not recognize 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.”
Everton said it would be monitoring “with great interest” decisions made in other cases concerning the league’s financial rules.
Both Manchester City and reportedly Chelsea have been accused by the league of various breaches of regulations.
Two clubs — Middlesbrough and Portsmouth — have received points deductions in the Premier League since its inaugural season in 1992 and they both wound up getting relegated.
Middlesbrough got a three-point penalty for pulling out of a match against Blackburn in the 1996-97 season. Portsmouth was deducted nine points in 2010 after going into administration — a form of bankruptcy protection.
The Everton case could run and run. Aside from the club’s own appeal, five rival teams which made a complaint against Everton for alleged bending of financial rules — Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Leicester and Burnley — were notified in May that if the complaint against Everton was upheld, they would have 28 days to inform the commission that they wished to pursue a claim of compensation.
Leeds, Southampton and Leicester are no longer in the Premier League.
Everton avoided relegation by four points in the 2021-22 season and by two points — and on the final day of the campaign — last season.
The league referred Everton to an independent commission in March because of the alleged breach of financial rules. A five-day hearing was held last month and the commission has now published its verdict, saying its overspending was “the result of Everton irresponsibly taking a chance that things would turn out positively.”
“The cause of Everton’s PSR (profit and sustainability rules) difficulties was the fact that it overspent (largely on its purchase of new players and its inability to sell other players), and because it finished lower in the league than it had projected … causing a loss of expected income of 21 million pounds ($26 million).”
“The reality is,” the commission said, “that Everton failed to manage its finances so as to operate within the generous threshold” of $130 million.
Everton’s majority owner is British-Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri, a business partner of Russian metals tycoon Alisher Usmanov. Everton announced in March 2022 that it had halted its major sponsorship with companies belonging to Usmanov after he was sanctioned by the European Union in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Moshiri bought Everton in 2016 but has been looking to sell the club in recent months.
The commission said Moshiri came to Everton “with great aspirations” and “wanted to transform the club into one of the top teams in the Premier League, regularly playing in Europe.”
He wanted to build a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock and those joint ambitions were described by interim CEO James Maryniak as a “challenging plan,” the commission said.
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