When will the punishment for Financial Fair Play breaches start to kick in?




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By Tony Attwood

The argument is being made that Saudi cash has allowed clubs such as PSG a way out of tight Financial Fair Play restrictions by Saudi clubs paying way over the expected odds to buy certain players.  It is an argument being aired at U

Everton are under investigation for FFP breaches.  A hearing date is set for 25 October.  There are multiple punishments possible if they are found guilty including suspension from the league, points deduction, an order for games to be replayed, expulsion from the league, payment of compensation … to name but a few.

But that is only the start, because if it is shown that there was a breach of FFP rules, then clubs seriously affected by the guilty club’s actions, could also claim compensation.

The higher up the league a club finishes the more it earns in TV rights, but the differences there are not enormous.  No, where they are huge is in terms of relegation, and hence the allegation that a club avoided relegation by breaking FFP rules is the big player here.

But the problem arises due to the fact that cases are heard a long time after the events, and so the league can’t do anything to punish the club concerned other than give fines.  But clubs affected by the position of the offending club could then start legal action.

For example, Everton are accused of breaches in 2021/22.  That season they ended up 16th, and it could be argued that without the FFP breaches, they would have got three points fewer and ended up 18th, saving Burnley from relegation.  Burnley could then sue for loss of Premier League earnings in 2022/23 when the case is heard next month.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
16 Everton 38 11 6 21 43 66 -23 39
17 Leeds United 38 9 11 18 42 79 -37 38
18 Burnley 38 7 14 17 34 53 -19 35
19 Watford 38 6 5 27 34 77 -43 23
20 Norwich City 38 5 7 26 23 84 -61 22


But there is more.  Everton then played in 2022/23 in the Premier League and again just avoided going down.  The argument could be made by Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton that Everton should not have been in the league, and therefore the position of these clubs is false.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
17 Everton 38 8 12 18 34 57 -23 36
18 Leicester City 38 9 7 22 51 68 -17 34
19 Leeds United 38 7 10 21 48 78 -30 31
20 Southampton 38 6 7 25 36 73 -37 25


But Everton were not even referred to an independent commission over the allegations until March this year, even though the alleged offences took place in 2021-22 season.  Various clubs demanded that the case be heard before the end of last season, but nothing happened.

What makes all this annoying for the affected clubs is that Everton openly recorded losses of £371.8m over a three-year period while the regulations limited losses to £105m.

Amazingly (and really this ought to be investigated by an independent commissioner) the Premier League then told Leeds and Burnley there was a case against Everton but didn’t push the hearing through, although the clubs facing relegation demanded that they should.

It is often said that relegation to the Championship costs clubs at least £100m per season. So Burnley, Watford, Norwich, Leicester, Leeds and Southampton could all have a case.  If they won, that could bankrupt the Premier League, unless all the other clubs agreed to bail the league out.

The maths can get a bit complex over this.  Last season, it might seem obvious that Leicester just two points behind Everton should be compensated, and indeed Burnley the season before.   But as the Guardian pointed out in an article, Leeds could claim “that they took only one point rather than six from their games against Everton because of Everton’s cheating; had they got all six, they would have been in a better position to survive.”

As a result they say, “The clubs also feel that they could have recourse to seek damages from the league itself – on the grounds of a mismanagement of the situation.”


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