Some shock news out of Europe has raised the possibility that Everton could be playing Champions League football next season even if they finish in 5th place. According to the Telegraph as well as several other news outlets, UEFA is planning to punish Manchester City and PSG for their disregard of the Financial Fair Play Rules.
On the surface this doesn't seem to benefit Everton. Manchester City is still expected to be allowed to participate in the competition in the fall, reports indicate a huge fine or transfer ban is the most likely outcome. But where things get interesting is in the rules about how punishments are handed out.
Currently clubs found guilty are allowed to negotiate a punishment settlement. If the club refuses or can't come to an agreement with UEFA, an adjudicatory group will hand down a punishment which can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
At any point though, a rival club affected by Manchester City's spending can speak up. For the Premier League that could be Everton or Arsenal, possibly even both. These clubs could argue that City's spending prevented them from finishing in 4th or even 3rd. Obviously the 5th place side would have millions of reasons to challenge the ruling, and any team finishing in 4th would love the opportunity to be considered the 3rd place finisher which carries an automatic entry into the group stages of the Champions League. Evertonians remember well just how perilous that playoff can be for the 4th place team.
News of any punishment is expected to come out in the next week or so. With Everton facing Manchester City in a few weeks, any turmoil for the blue half of Manchester would be welcome.