By George Overhill

17th May, 2023 | 4:40pm

Everton: 'Negligent' Premier League now under legal threat as rival appears to back Toffees FFP defence, all 19 clubs unhappy

The Premier League itself is now under threat of legal action over its handling of Everton amid “widespread unhappiness” from all 19 clubs, according to the Daily Mail.

The Mail had already reported (16 May) that Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Leicester, Burnley and Southampton had lodged legal papers with the intention of any three relegated sides to seek £100million each in compensation from the Toffees, and the Clarets possibly mounting a separate claim.

The Times then reported (17 May) those clubs had “distanced themselves” from that report, but the Mail has now gone further, with apparently-widespread discontent within the top flight at the league’s handling of Everton expenditure, after having worked closely with the club to control it – Everton insist they have not breached FFP rules.

The aforementioned sides are therefore considering a “parallel claim” to any they pursue against Everton, for damages from the Premier League.

And a source from one appeared to back the Toffees’ stance, telling Mail Sport: “It’s clear that the Premier League have been ineffective or negligent with regards to enforcing their own rules.

“Everton’s defence against the charges is essentially that the Premier League approved all their expenditure, which appears to be the case.

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“The Premier League certainly had advance warning of Everton’s planned expenditure before they submitted their 2021/22 accounts in March, yet they stood back and allowed them to keep spending.”

Mess of their own making?

With nothing proven against Everton until the independent commission hearing, and the club insistent they are above board anyway, this may all go away in the coming months.

But there is clearly a great deal of upset to go round, and if the league is in the firing line yet they supposedly permitted the Toffees’ spending, what that means for the charge they have slapped on the club is hard to fathom.

For Everton’s part, their stance appears to be clear in that they believe their massive losses – over £300million in the past two rolling three-year windows – are permitted due to Covid-19 disruption and other allowable spending including the stadium development, and that the league has been supervising their moves since then.

Based on the quotes from one of the aggrieved rival clubs the latter part of that looks to be accepted, so the threat of legal action apparently pointing in multiple directions may be an attempt to cover all bases for whatever the outcome of the hearing is, which could still be months away.

It was a surprise when the Premier League charged Everton on 24 March, with it widely known they had been working with the club on spending a year ago.

While signings were made in the summer, none arrived in January – with Sean Dyche feeling the effects of that on the pitch – and two stars were sold in that time in Richarlison and Anthony Gordon.

Though the entire situation is far from happy for Everton, if anything it sounds like the most recent report makes things much more uncomfortable for the league.

But until the relegation battle is settled and the hearing eventually announces its finding every accusation and counter-accusation is primarily going to be based on supposition.