Everton feel they were mistreated but left the Premier League with little choice. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Time and time again, Everton were invited to save money, cut costs and, simply put, stop burning money from the Premier League, which had an interest in ensuring the club did not break the financial rules that govern its 20 members.
The problem is that, as this week's decision showed, Everton and owner Farhad Moshiri simply didn't know how to stop. Accommodations were made, deadlines were set, but the costs never stopped. “It is irresponsible to take the risk that everything will turn out positively,” was how the independent commission delicately described the club’s approach, which awarded Everton 10 points.
What if tough love started much earlier? The club was punished for its financial performance over four years from 2019, including the next two Covid-19-affected seasons and the 2022 financial year. If the rules had been stricter in 2019 and the Premier League's most egregious abuses had been carried out in real time, then perhaps Everton would not have been punished so harshly in the autumn of 2023.
This is what the Premier League's new financial rules propose, which cap costs on fees, wages and everything associated costs. percentage of the proceeds – he intends to do so. In September, clubs adopted a new rule requiring violations to be dealt with within 12 weeks of the offence, although this only applies to simple cases.
It has never been clearer this week that the Premier League needs to attack quickly using its governing power rather than try to defend its rules after the fact – for the benefit of habitual offenders and others alike.
Everton was run by an owner who couldn't stop spending money. They were defended by lawyers who tried to justify the costs under the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules (PSR). It didn't work as a strategy and should have been stopped sooner. However, Everton are by no means the only ones at risk.
Alarming allegations emerging from Chelsea under Roman Abramovich's regime of off-the-books payments to agents, much of it unknown to the current owners, look like they could be the Premier League's latest management nightmare. It can hardly be worse than Manchester City's 115 charges, some of which date back to the 2009-10 season. The city denies any wrongdoing.
The Premier League is trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, so to speak, when it comes to financial management. He tries to do this while the pipe is locked in a secret bank vault, the location of which is unknown, by unseen forces.
The Premier League gave Everton plenty of opportunities to comply. The club's unadjusted losses for the period were £304 million. By the time additional PSR payments were allowed, including a special deal for stadium costs in August 2021, those losses had more than halved to £120 million, but even that was not enough to comply. Everton went so far beyond the PSR and ignored so many warnings that the Premier League, under pressure from other clubs, had no choice.
It was bad timing. New Premier League chairman Alison Brittain arrived with what can be assumed to be the intention of ensuring that PSR solved the problem of the legal department rather than the board of directors. The same board included three non-executive directors with similar corporate governance experience. City and Everton were charged, and now Chelsea, according to their own statement, are under investigation.
The clubs will meet this week to resolve some important issues. How they share the burden of paying for the New Deal with the Football League will affect the revenue mix from top to bottom, as well as the competitive balance. Another vote on the leases of clubs under the same ownership group is also critical. These are important decisions because they affect the league's delicate balance, its competitiveness and, ultimately, the overall value of the product.
The Premier League is not the NFL, which is 32 franchises combined into one legal entity. without relegation and with powers invested in the league to control competitive advantage. An independent regulator is also no guarantee that another club will not repeat Everton's mistakes. The British government – and by extension any would-be regulator – would be no more willing to block Moshiri's 2018 takeover than the Premier League did.
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri (centre) couldn't stop spending money. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
The revelations surrounding Everton and the two other clubs under investigation make it clear that the dynamics are now different, even if Chelsea's alleged PSR violations apply to the previous regime as well. The lesson is that the old consensus that clubs held the rules sacrosanct has long since disappeared. The idea that the Premier League can wait for clubs to submit PSR calculations, negotiate losses, keep promises and bully its members into submission belongs to a different era.
Instead, the Premier League now knows that it there is no choice but to attack. He will have to look into the issue of multi-club ownership and how it might affect the Premier League's PSR. It may have to go further in declaring the owners' interests, although how it might force national state clubs to do so is another matter.
Trying to find out which company is registered with Virgin UK. Islands allegedly paid another player in Dubai and the fact that this could have been linked to the acquisition of Chelsea 11 years ago is a thankless task. But this is where the Premier League is now if justice done to Everton is to be fair to everyone.
The alternative, of course, is that each of the 20 clubs could simply stick to their own rules. the rules they agreed upon. However, given one week of soccer, this seems like too much of a requirement.