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Who will avoid the drop? The implications of Everton’s points deduction on the relegation battle

The Premier League fixtures at the beginning of April added to the drama at the bottom of the table, providing more twists and turns for fans to endure. Luton Town managed to pick up their first win since January, beating an in-form Bournemouth side 2-1 thanks to a late Carlton Morris goal. Fellow strugglers Everton went into a home game vs Burnley having not won any of their previous 13 games in the league (6D 7L). The pressure was on, and it certainly showed, with the quality provided by both sides being relatively poor. The Toffees ended up winning the game 1-0 through a bizarre goal from Dominic Calvert Lewin, just before halftime. This lifted Everton to 15th in the table, ahead of Brentford and Nottingham Forest. The former managed to pick up a valuable point away at Villa Park in a 3-3 thriller, whilst the latter came away empty-handed in their game against Tottenham, losing 3-1. 

However, the biggest surprise would occur on the afternoon of Monday 8th April, when the Premier League announced that Everton were to be deducted a further two points for breaching profit and sustainability rules a second time. The Blues have now been docked a staggering eight points, leaving them just 5 points above relegation. This is the first season where teams are being punished for breaking rules set back in 2013. The rules state that a team could only register a maximum loss of £105 million over three seasons, which comes in at around £35 million per year, though the Premier League have waived losses incurred during the pandemic.

Everton, however, had been handed a ten-point deduction for precisely such losses, later reduced to 6 on appeal by the Premier League for the seasons 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22, of which they exceeded the £105 million threshold by £19.5 million. Monday’s 2-point deduction was due to losses of £16.6 million in the 22/23 season.

Both occasions have sparked outrage; not just from Everton fans, but from fans around the country, who claim that the Premier League are not being fair in their actions, and that they lack integrity when it comes to dealing with other clubs over financial matters. The Premier League has been quick to hand out punishments to ‘small’ clubs like Everton and Nottingham Forest when it comes to breaking PSR rules, but seem to stretch out and delay punishment towards clubs like Manchester City, which have a possible 115 FFP charges looming over their head. Moreover, the Premier League have tried to dock Everton a ludicrous 17 points in total for their financial misdemeanours this season. This has fallen to eight points due to the club’s co-operation with the league, overlapping years of assessment and the financial impact of the Ukraine war. 

The final point concerns Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov, who was labelled as a ‘pro-Kremlin oligarch’ and sanctioned in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The reason this links to Everton is because, according to The Guardian, the club have received up to £415 million in investment from Usmanov’s companies since 2016, when Farhad Moshiri, Everton’s main shareholder, took control of the club. This has had a negative financial impact for Everton, who are now finding it hard to finance the club’s new stadium, Bramley Moore Dock, which the Toffees are set to move into in the 2025/26 season.

The eight-point deduction represents the most severe points deduction the Premier League has handed out in its 32-year history. Everton have become the first side to receive two separate point deductions in topflight history. To put this into perspective, a club would be deducted nine points if they went into administration, something that Everton could find themselves in if they were to be relegated this season. This has understandably angered many fans, who believe that the level of punishment far exceeds the severity of the rules broken by both Everton and Nottingham Forest.

As already mentioned, the Blues now sit five points above the relegation zone, with vital games coming up versus fellow relegation battlers Luton and Sheffield United. It would be some achievement if Sean Dyche’s Blues can survive the drop, but the implications of the PSR rules may not end here. Financial experts believe that Everton will have to sell their top players in order to balance the books and avoid further punishment from the Premier League. So, it’s increasingly apparent that the punishment that the Premier League lays out is ineffective: their own guidelines perpetuate the financial situation clubs find themselves in. To address this issue, the Premier League have recently explored scrapping points deductions next season, which is highly convenient for the likes of Man City.

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