09 April 2024

Everton fans criticise Premier League’s ‘inconsistency’ over PSR sanctions

09 April 2024

Everton fans have hit out at the Premier League over what they see as “inconsistency” in the sanctions issued for breaches of the league’s financial rules.

The club were docked two points by an independent commission on Monday for an overspend under the league’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) in the period ending with the 2022-23 season.

Everton will appeal against the sanction, having already had a 10-point penalty imposed last November for a PSR breach covering the period up to the 2021-22 season cut to six on appeal.

Nottingham Forest were given a four-point sanction for breaching PSR last month which is also the subject of an appeal.

A statement from the Everton Fan Advisory Board (FAB) highlighted the four different outcomes from the commission hearings to date, arguing that they leave supporters “with more questions than answers”.

“The only consistency throughout has been the inconsistency,” the statement added.

“From the outset, it has been made clear that Everton Football Club has a case to answer, however the only certainty we have is the PL’s failure to provide transparent, fair and effective regulation of its own rules.”

The Premier League does not have a sanctioning framework for PSR breaches. Clubs – understood to include Everton – opted against bringing one in when the matter was discussed at a meeting in 2020.

It was decided at that time that a rigid system of fixed sanctions would take discretion away from the independent commissions and would not allow commissions sufficient flexibility to take aggravating and mitigating factors into account. It was also felt that offering clubs less certainty over the sanction they might face acted as a stronger deterrent against breaching the rules in the first place.

Top-flight clubs are now working on new financial rules to ultimately replace PSR, which could be approved as early as the league’s annual general meeting in June.

The FAB statement also criticised the league over what it perceived as “inaction” over the proposed takeover of the club by American investment firm 777 Partners.

That, combined with the perceived inconsistency on sanctioning, meant the league had “brought a palpable level of sporting interference to Everton’s doorstep”, the FAB said.

The FAB also criticised the commission’s ruling that the FAB and its impact statement had no standing in the case.

“The PL Independent Commission’s decision to refuse to consider the views and impact on supporters could not be further from the Premier League’s rhetoric about the importance and value of fan input,” the FAB statement continued.

“It raises real concern that the PL continues to erode the trust and good faith of football’s biggest asset – supporters.”

The commission said in its written reasons that it would not be appropriate to give standing to the impact statement, adding: “As a matter of principle, it would be wrong for the views of Everton FAB to impact the appropriate sanction, particularly in circumstances where the supporters of other clubs would undoubtedly have other views they would ask us to consider.”

The FAB statement again called for football’s independent regulator, which is set for its second reading in Parliament after the Easter recess, to have the requisite power to oversee such matters.

However, the Government has repeatedly stressed it will continue to be the responsibility of the Premier League to set the rules for its competition even after the regulator passes into law.

Under the PSR standard directions, Everton’s appeal hearing must conclude no later than May 24 – which would be after the last round of fixtures on May 19.

The outcome of the appeal against the two-point deduction must be announced before the June 1 ‘backstop date’, meaning the league table could be further updated some time after the last ball has been kicked.

The commission which imposed the two-point penalty on Monday will also have to rule on a dispute between the club and the league over the status of certain costs which the club say are associated with the building of their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, though this element sits outside the standard directions and does not therefore need to be resolved before June 1.

The Premier League has been approached for comment.

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