Premier League chiefs have written to Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham to strongly refute his accusations that Everton’s 10-point deduction for breaching financial rules amounted to an “abuse of process”.
In a three-page letter, Premier League chair Alison Brittain spelled out the process by which an independent commission earlier this month arrived at the Merseyside club’s unprecedented punishment.
The sanction, for overspending over a four-year period, tipped Everton into the relegation zone and prompted outcry from the club, their supporters, who branded top-flight chiefs “corrupt” in a protest last weekend, and the Mayor of Liverpool.
Burnham, an Everton fan and season ticket holder, on Sunday raised the stakes by publishing a letter he had written to the Premier League alleging “regulatory malpractice” and that an example was being made of Everton to mitigate the powers of the incoming regulator.
Brittain, the former CEO of hospitality company Whitbread, has now responded to set the record straight, entirely denying Burnham’s central claims and attempting to walk him through the way that such cases are processed and the judgments ultimately reached.
The Premier League does not have a fixed tariff of punishments for such cases for several reasons, she explained: to allow the independent panel full discretion to make its own decision and take any mitigating factors into account, and also to avoid putting a ceiling on sanctions.
In keeping with the league’s decision-making process, all clubs were asked in 2020 whether they wished a fixed tariff to be introduced for clubs who broke profit and sustainability rules, but they – including Everton – decided against it.
The Premier League proposed Everton receive a six-point penalty plus additional deductions corresponding to the extent of the breach, while the club argued to be placed under a transfer embargo instead. They have indicated that they will appeal.
Earlier this year, it was also ruled that Everton would be liable for compensation claims from rival clubs if found guilty. Leeds United, Leicester and Southampton, who were relegated last year, Burnley and Nottingham Forest are reported to be suing for £300m.
Should Everton be ordered to make a major pay-out, they could be forced into administration, thus incurring a further nine-point penalty and deepening their relegation worries. Administration is one of the main offences for which the top flight does have a set punishment.
Thousands of Toffees supporters marched in protest at the perceived injustice ahead of last Sunday’s fixture at home to Manchester United. They held signs depicting the Premier League logo and the word “corrupt” during the 3-0 defeat.