Everton docked two more points for second breach of financial rules

Everton's James Tarkowski walks off the pitch at the end of an English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Everton at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Dave Thompson/AP Photo)

Everton was docked two more points for its latest breach of the English Premier League financial rules, plunging the team back toward the relegation zone with seven games remaining on Monday.

Everton had already received a six-point deduction — reduced from 10 following an appeal — for the club overspending in a three-year spell up to the end of the 2021-22 season.

This latest punishment, handed out by an independent commission, came after Everton was found to have spent too much in the three seasons up to 2022-23.

The league profit and financial sustainability rules allow clubs to lose a maximum of 105 million pounds ($132.5 million) over a three-year period or face sanctions. Everton overspent by 16.6 million pounds ($21 million), the league said.

Everton had, in effect, already been punished for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, partly explaining why the second points deduction was less.

The club did, though, say it was “extremely concerned by the inconsistency of different commissions in respect of points deductions applied,” and it was preparing to launch an appeal against the decision.

By appealing, Everton potentially risks an increased punishment as it would be heard by another panel, which could decide the sanction was not harsh enough.

The deduction meant Everton dropped below Brentford into 16th place on 27 points, only two points above Luton in 18th in the 20-team league. Three teams will be relegated.

Everton, a nine-time English champion, has been an ever-present in the top division since 1954.

The Merseyside club has worked closely with the league over its finances and, after being charged, said in the disciplinary hearing that there were some “significant mitigating circumstances” such as the admission of the breach, the club’s “high level of co-operation” and the war in Ukraine.

The reference to the war is linked to Everton majority owner Farhad Moshiri, a British-Iranian billionaire, and his close business relationship with Russian metals tycoon Alisher Usmanov. Usmanov was sanctioned by the European Union in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting the need for Everton to halt its major sponsorship with companies belonging to Usmanov in March 2022.

In the written reasons published by the Premier League, Everton invited the independent commission to defer the second sanction until next season. The commission said it did not consider that to be appropriate.

The written reasons also showed the league felt five points was the appropriate starting place for the sanction — three for the breach and two more for exceeding the upper loss threshold by 15.8%.

The commission knocked off two points because of the overlapping two seasons and another point because of the mitigating circumstances.

Everton ultimately received the six-point penalty for the first breach for overspending by around 20 million pounds ($25 million).

Nottingham Forest, which is two points and a place below Everton, is another club to have been sanctioned for breaching the league’s financial rules after admitting to going over the threshold by 34.5 million pounds ($44 million). Forest was handed a four-point deduction and is also appealing against the decision.

The results of the appeals of Everton and Forest might not be announced before the end of the season. That would create a potential scenario where the identity of the relegated teams may not be known until days after the season has finished, which would be hugely controversial.

In a separate disciplinary case, Manchester City is in a legal fight with the league after the competition accused the English and European champions of about 80 alleged breaches of its financial rules from 2009-18 and 30 more relating to its alleged failure to co-operate with an investigation.

The outcome of City’s case isn’t expected to be known until midway through next season, at the earliest, because of the number of alleged breaches involved.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.