Everton and Forest: what exactly has gone wrong with their accounting?




By Tony Attwood

When the first hearing against Everton for breach of Financial Fair Play rules announced its results, I wrote “Everton have had their league total of points cut from 14 to four for breaching financial fair play rules.The Telegraph has immediately lept to their defence, claiming they have done nothing wrong.”

The Telegraph’s support for the club was strange since it didn’t actually say how their correspondents had reached that conclusion, but it was a theme amplified by Everton supporters.  Some wrote to Untold – mostly politely – claiming that there was a vendetta against Everton.

My response was to ask why there was such a vendetaa, and as you may have noticed I have been asking, “Why?” ever since.  As a businessman (now largely retired) I had the experience of rival companies suggesting privately that my company’s success was in part down to malpractice, and I could see why they did that.  We were innovating and growing at a faster rate than they were, and they wanted to suggest to potential customers that my firm was not reliable.

But as far as I can see there is no such benefit to be gained by suggesting the commission investigating FFP is biased or corrupt.  And indeed no evidence to support it.

And certainly no benefit to anyone in attacking Everton twice, which is what has happened.  But twice it is, and thinking this might happen we yesterday published what the league table would look like as a result if it did.  That can now be updated


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
14 Crystal Palace 20 5 6 9 22 29 -7 21
15 Brentford 19 5 4 10 26 31 -5 19
16 Luton Town 20 4 4 12 24 38 -14 16
17 Burnley 21 3 3 15 21 42 -21 12
18 Nottingham Forest 20 5 5 10 24 35 -11 10
19 Sheffield United 20 2 3 15 15 49 -34 9
20 Everton 21 8 3 10 24 28 -4 7


This still doesn’t mean Everton and Forest will go down – Everton are only five points from safety, and in terms of the last six games they are gaining 1.17 points a game.  That is above the average for all the other clubs shown in the table above, and so with 17 and 18 games left, if they keep up their present form they will be safe.

According to the Premier League Forest are punished for “sustaining losses above the permitted thresholds for 2022-23.”   For Everton it seems to be a punishment period from 2019/20  to 2022/23, with allowances made (as for all clubs) for the pandemic.   The argument is that even with the allowances Everton overspent in the Covid period and then lost nearly £45m in 2022/23.

Part of the problem there seems to be that Everton were involved with Alisher Usmanov, who as we know was an Arsenal shareholder until August 2018 when he sold his shares for £550m to Kroenke.

According to the Guardian “Everton’s latest accounts have not been published but will show losses connected to aborted commercial deals with companies connected to the oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who was subject to sanctions, and the costs of their new stadium.  In short, the effects of trying to do too much too quickly, not taking account of a possible major economic downturn, and dealing with a man with the wrong nationality.  The lesson to learn is, don’t deal with billionaires from the east.

As for Nottingham Forest, they spent £150m in the summer 2022/3 transfer periods, on over 30 players all told.  The plan was not only to keep the team in the PL, but to balance the books by selling a few of these players on as they improved.  Taiwo Awoniyi is cited as an example

That can work if the contracts are short and the salaries modest.  But Jesse Lingard came in on a free and so his salary was very high as is often the case with such transfers.  As a result of this sort of approach the salaries for players were more than double the total income of the club!  Worse the club then had so many players that they couldn’t all be fitted in the 25-man squad.   Harry Arter for example is said to earn over £2m a year and yet is not even in the PL squad!

At the same time the sort of stability that Arsenal have with Arteta and Edu not only running the show now, but both having played for the club and thus become engrained in its approach, has not been known at Forest.   Immediate success was demanded, and those failing to deliver left – each time with compensation for a canceled contract.

Meanwhile the centre-back Felipe joined on an 18-month contract in January 2023 and helped keep Forest up.   But his salary is said to be £4.7m a year and he has only started one game this season.

Of course some players did move on at a profit such as Brennan Johnson sold for £47.5 to Tottenham, having joined Forest aged eight.  So that was pure profit but it didn’t come until 1 September 2023, which made it too late to be included in the books.  It’s a point of detail, but really it’s not the sort of mistake a club should make.

Arsenal are always accused by the media of dithering in the transfer market, but most of the time any delay that we do see is through Arsenal getting the details right.  When there is no “dithering” what we get is everything done in a rush, and a Forest type problem.

2 Replies to “Everton and Forest: what exactly has gone wrong with their accounting?”

  1. But, I can understand how Everton is feeling aggrieved given that richer, if not bigger, clubs have purposely messed around with their books and yet have not been held to account. Everton’s mistakes seem, if one is to believe their defence, to be more of incompetence or bad luck as opposed to evil machinations.

  2. The Premier League has apparently set a date for the Man. City FFP hearing. They haven’t told us when that will be, but they have set a date.

    Another example of openness by the powers that be.

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