Everton docked 10 points after breaching Premier League financial rules
LONDON - Everton have been docked 10 points after being found guilty of breaching Premier League financial rules, plunging one of England's most storied football clubs into the relegation zone.
The punishment, the biggest sporting sanction in the history of the competition, leaves Sean Dyche's side 19th in the table on a total of just four points after 12 matches -- five points from safety.
Everton said they were "shocked and disappointed by the ruling", announcing their intention to appeal.
The Premier League referred the club, who have posted losses for five consecutive years, to an independent commission in March for an alleged breach of its profitability and sustainability rules (PSRs).
Clubs are allowed to lose a maximum £105 million ($130 million) over a three-year period or face sanctions.
"The club admitted it was in breach of the PSRs for the period ending season 2021/22 but the extent of the breach remained in dispute," the Premier League said in a statement on Friday.
"Following a five-day hearing last month, the commission determined that Everton FC's PSR calculation for the relevant period resulted in a loss of £124.5 million, as contended by the Premier League, which exceeded the threshold of £105 million permitted under the PSRs.
"The commission concluded that a sporting sanction in the form of a 10-point deduction should be imposed. That sanction has immediate effect."
The commission was blunt about the situation in its full written reasons.
"The position that Everton finds itself in is of its own making," it said. "It is Everton's responsibility to ensure that it complies with the PSR regime. The excess over the threshold is significant. The consequence is that Everton's culpability is great."
- 'Harsh' punishment' -
But Everton said the punishment was "wholly disproportionate and unjust".
"Everton maintains that it has been open and transparent in the information it has provided to the Premier League and that it has always respected the integrity of the process," the club said in a statement.
"The club does not recognise the finding that it failed to act with the utmost good faith and it does not understand this to have been an allegation made by the Premier League during the course of proceedings.
"Both the harshness and severity of the sanction imposed by the commission are neither a fair nor a reasonable reflection of the evidence submitted."
Everton great Neville Southall said the team, who have won three of their past five league games, have the quality to survive.
"All we've got to do is galvanise the players, the manager and the fans into one, which will be a good thing for them," he told the BBC.
"The Premier League isn't a great league from the bottom half down so they've got half a chance of winning that half of the league."
The punishment comes at a time of upheaval at the club.
In September, owner Farhad Moshiri agreed a deal with US investment firm 777 Partners for his 94 percent shareholding. Prior to Friday's points deduction, the takeover was reportedly on course to be completed by next month.
Everton are currently building a new 53,000-capacity stadium, preparing to leave their Goodison Park ground.
They said they would monitor "with great interest" the decisions made in other cases concerning financial rules.
Premier League champions Manchester City were charged earlier this year with 115 alleged breaches of financial fair play regulations in a case that is ongoing.
Only two other clubs have received points deductions in Premier League history.
Middlesbrough were deducted three points for failing to fulfil a fixture against Blackburn during the 1996/97 season, while in 2010 Portsmouth were deducted nine points after going into administration.
Both clubs were unable to avoid relegation.
Nine-time English champions Everton have been a continuous presence in the top flight since 1954 and have never been relegated from the Premier League.
But they only avoided the drop by two points last season and have spent years in the shadow of city rivals Liverpool, last winning a trophy in 1995. - John Weaver / AFP