Everton points deduction could be increased at 'tricky' appeal hearing after 'guilty of cheating' verdict
Everton could see their 10-point deduction increased at an appeal having been “found guilty of cheating”, according to Matt Slater.
The Athletic journalist reported via the outlet’s website on 18 November that after being accused by the Premier League and the independent panel agreeing, despite the arguments in mitigation from the club’s point of view, that is the unavoidable starting point.
And with interim CEO Colin Chong confirming on 17 November after the punishment was announced that Everton will be appealing the verdict Slater has suggested there are significant pitfalls to the process, with the outside chance that the original punishment could be argued up by the league, and the much greater likelihood that rival clubs will make negative submissions against them.
Slater wrote: “Everton will not want to see it in these terms but they have effectively been found guilty of cheating. It is as simple as that…
“It is important to approach this from that starting point: the Premier League charged Everton with breaches that are hard to consider as anything other than cheating and an independent panel has agreed.”
On the next steps he added: “Appeals can be tricky. There is a chance, albeit a remote one, the Premier League will say: ‘Bring it on. We want 12 points.’
“There is also a bigger chance that clubs affected by Everton’s rule-breaking will want to make submissions to the appeal panel. Any such submissions are unlikely to be requests for clemency.
“What Everton will get, though, is another chance to make their arguments, and a new panel to impress. They will also have the benefit of knowing which arguments hit the back of the net in the first hearing and which ones flew out of the stadium.
“The Premier League, of course, will know this, too.”
Assuming the appeal is lodged within the required timeframe and the likes of Leicester City, Leeds United and Burnley then make good on their intention to claim for damages then the possibility of a further two-point reduction is potentially the least of the Toffees’ worries.
Sean Dyche has got the team into a good enough rhythm now to be picking up points at a rate that fans could only dream of for much of the past two years, which coupled with the promoted sides’ struggles has seen the threat of relegation greatly reduced this term.
But a 10-point deduction, much heavier than was generally expected even in the wake of the news that the Premier League wanted 12, has clearly thrown a spanner into the works.
Even so, as it stands Everton are only result from safety in the table even with the punishment already imposed, so two more would almost more of an insult than an injury.
The financial threat from sides relegated in the past two seasons is surely the much greater concern, with each club said to want as much as £100million in compensation.
Being very charitable to the current side, even the extra nine-point deduction that administration would trigger is arguably not insurmountable based on the season so far, but the effects on the takeover, the stadium development and the inevitable gutting of the squad could be ruinous.
It is tempting to view the spending breach as a result of total incompetence at Goodison Park rather than a deliberate attempt to cheat, not least because it hasn’t brought about anything remotely resembling success.
But the league, the commission, and a handful of rival clubs have all seen it very differently, and the potential for an appeals panel to agree with them is worrying.