Everton fans the world over are still reeling in shock from the news that broke a couple of hours ago that the club have been handed an immediate ten-point deduction as a result of the long, ongoing investigation into alleged Financial Fair Play breaches that lead to one charge being filed against the Blues.
On paper, the result of this action is that the Blues drop from 14th place with 14 points down into the relegation zone, tied with bottom club Burnley on 4 points and ahead of the Clarets only on goal difference.
The Toffees have indicated in a strongly-worded statement that they are planning to appeal the sentence with immediate effect, and will be pushing for a resolution this season as well.
A number of prominent personalities in and around the game have chimed in on the Premier League’s ruling, and almost all of them have spoken in unison saying that the punishment is excessive with regards to the nature of the ‘crime’.
After all, the PL’s statement pretty much exonerates the Toffees from any on-pitch wrongdoing, and indicates that the £124.5million loss incurred (£19.5million over the permissible £105million) can be attributed to the development of the new stadium, which makes the points deduction all the more befuddling.
Everton had submitted solid explanations regarding why they had overshot the amounts permitted, and why the losses they had suffered during COVID-19 were more than other clubs in their situation. Primarily this is based on the lost opportunity cost around two unnamed players (scroll down to Page 35, Mitigating Factors).
Player X appears to be Gylfi Sigurdsson who was signed for a club record fee and was suspended for off-field activities by the Football Association, thereby denying Everton either a chance to play him or sell him, leading to lost revenues. The Blues had been advised that they could take the player to court for that, but chose to do the humane thing and let it lie, and got punished anyway.
Player Y seems to be Michael Keane, and has been claimed by the independent commission as an aggravating factor. Per the ruling, Everton’s claim that he was on their selling list was ignored since latter versions of the club’s financial forecast update did not have him on it and he was handed a new contract in the summer of 2020. That fails to acknowledge that often outgoing players are handed new contracts to maximize incoming transfer fees.
Everton also claimed that they were forced to sell Richarlison to Tottenham Hotspur for just £60m in a late attempt to balance the books when they should have had £80m were they not under pressure to sell quickly before the end of the financial year.
Another big factor Everton claimed and that did not appear to have been taken into consideration was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to massive losses in sponsorship for the Blues as USM Holdings led by business magnate Alisher Usmanov were frozen out.
What this means right away for the Blues is that they are sucked back into a relegation battle, for the third season in a row. If anything, the Toffees can consider themselves somewhat fortunate that this is the season the PL hit them with this because of how poor the promoted trio of Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton Town as well as AFC Bournemouth are.
Given Everton’s current form, we shouldn’t really be losing too much sleep about this as Luton in 17th sit just two points above the Blues, and the Cherries in 16th have nine points, five more than Everton.
We can also expect that with the club pushing for a quick resolution to their appeal, there is a good chance that the deduction gets reduced. However, since the Premier League had originally pushed for a twelve-point deduction, there might not be too much leeway for the side.
Off the pitch though is where we will see the biggest change, with the fanbase united in anger and outrage. Dyche and his side should feed off the pure vitriol that the fans are seething with, and the famous Goodison bearpit atmosphere will only get propagated exponentially starting with next weekend when Manchester United come visiting minus their suspended manager Erik ten Hag.
It’s going to get really interesting that’s for sure, and with over two-thirds of the season still to play, we can only be grateful that the sanctions have come early enough in the campaign that Everton can fight them, united as one football club.