The implications of the Everton ruling are earth-shattering
- Everton deducted 10 points, next the legal cases, then Chelsea, then Man C, then…
- The proof of a bias among Premier League referees against southern teams
By Tony Attwood
So now we have two giant stories running at once. First there is the attempt by the FA to bash Mikel Arteta with a “disrepute” charge. Then there is the finding that Everton are guilty of breaking the Premier League Profit and Sustainability Rules known as PSR.
The two are not directly related, but in both cases the authorities are trying to show their muscle, and in a real sense regain control of an industry they feel is slipping out of its grasp. And they feel that simply because it has become so big and those within it are showing such individuality, the authorities feel it is time to assert control.
It is a bit like a parent who suddenly says to an errant young teenager “that’s the final straw” and stops the pocket money or forbids another night out. The issue becomes one of authority and obedience. Which raises the question, What if the clubs simply say, “No”?
Of course that would not do Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City much good on their own: they want to play in the Premier League and the Champions League, but for those three clubs suddenly life away from the clawing arms of the FA might now seem more interesting.
And then if there really is a suggestion of leaving the seemingly semi-skimmed ultra-secretive and totally biased PGMO behind secret invites to others might be offered.
Because what we have to think of here is not what the fines and penalties are, but a) what other pressures are there on the clubs and b) what alternatives do the clubs have?
There is no telling if other clubs have behaved as Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City have, just as we don’t have any idea what penalties will be placed on Chelsea and Manchester City if they like Everton are found guilty. But we do know this is the first ever PL points penalty given for this sort of misdemeanour, and this being football, the ground rules are virtually non-existent.
For as far as I know there is no range of penalties laid down in the constitution of the League for any of these offences.
If I am caught driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone, and at that moment of being caught I have a clean licence, it is set out that my penalty is (in summary) 3 points on my driving licence and a fine – or attendance on a speed awareness course.
But with the sort of offences these three clubs are charged with no one knows what the limits are. Yet if Everton’s naughtiness demands 10 points off, just think what Chelsea and Manchester City might face if found guilty.
Then what? Owners for whom the investment is the club is their main investment will be angry, but might ultimately take the hit and look at the long term. But those for whom the whole thing is a bit of a side show might walk away or maybe look to form their own league… with matches in the Americas, England and Europe and their own intercontinental competitions. Can you imagine the owners of Manchester City, to whom no one has ever said “perhaps not” let alone “no” in their lives, accepting this sort of punishment?
There is after all nothing to stop club owners walking out. And take four or five top clubs out of the Premier League and its name would look far less of a reflection of what it claims the be: the world’s pre-eminent league.
And yet clearly, whatever Everton settle for after the appeal, you can multiply that by 10 for Chelsea and 100 for Manchester City.
The Everton accusation is that £94.2 million of losses were whisked away from their FFP calculations. But Chelsea are accused of seven years of whisking away, along with millions upon millions of pounds of secret payments inward. There is both a difference in magnitude there – and Everton is a precedent as the Guardian points out.
The paper quotes a partner in the legal firm Sheridans, as noting that the Everton defence was that they were just interpreting the profitability and sustainability rules in one way, and the league is doing it in another. “But the commission in this case found that the general duty of good faith that clubs owe to the Premier League is a very high standard and trumps that.”
And that is the killer ruling. This is not a firm of accountants legitimately interpreting the law in a way that is to the advantage of their client. This is a member of the gang (the Premier League) acting against the gang’s interests, and that it says, is not on. The clubs have a “duty of good faith” toward the league of which they are part. And that good faith has been broken. Hence the magnitude of the punishment. And hence the situation for Chelsea and Manchester City is suddenly cast in a totally new light
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