Everything is clear at the top of the Premier League.
Manchester City, with what has become an inevitable regularity, is once again the champion of the English Premier League. Their win over second-place Arsenal was sealed last weekend, and those two clubs, along with Saudi-owned Newcastle United and City rival Manchester United, have already secured all four league places in the Champions League next season.
The drama in England is now at the bottom of the table, where three clubs enter the final day of the season this weekend locked in a high-stakes fight to retain their league places, and where an investigation into the finances from one such club, Everton, means that whatever happens on the pitch may not be the last word on who gets relegated.
And that worries the Premier League.
The problem is this: Everton’s financial losses of 371.8 million pounds between 2018 and 2021 (approximately $460 million) were more than three times the cap imposed by the league. In March, the Premier League accused the club of breaching its cost control rules and appointed an independent arbitrator to investigate. Under league rules, only the referee is empowered to decide the case and impose potential penalties.
However, in the weeks since, rival clubs have pushed for a decision to be made before the start of next season. They include, but are not limited to, those teams whose future is inextricably linked to Everton’s league finish, each aware that a potential points deduction for financial offences, if it comes before the new season, could seal the deal. Everton relegation instead of their own
The Premier League, which is already under pressure to announce a ruling in a separate, long-running case involving Manchester City’s spending, has also been quietly pushing for it to be resolved. According to people familiar with internal league discussions, Premier League officials have been pressing the head of the independent commission for a decision before next season.
However, the attorney hired to oversee the league’s rule-breaking cases, Murray Rosen, has refused to be rushed, according to people familiar with the exchanges. At times, he has even felt the need to remind league officials of the independence of the Premier League’s judicial panel.
Both cases come as English soccer is about to adopt an independent government-appointed regulator, a charge that threatens the Premier League’s ability to uphold rulings on contentious matters internally. The league’s critics argue that such a regulator has become necessary to police a group of property owners increasingly drawn from all corners of the world, including nation-states with access to seemingly limitless reserves of capital and lawyers.
For the moment, Everton’s focus, like that of their bottom-table rivals Leicester City and Leeds United, is to avoid the ignominy (and potential financial ruin) of relegation. Only one of the three clubs will be saved from that fate on Sunday, and Everton, a fixture in the Premier League since its inception in 1992, currently hold a slim lead. They are one place, and two points, ahead of Leicester and Leeds, and need only match their rivals’ results on Sunday to finish above them in the standings.
For relegated teams, the loss of a Premier League place and the tens of millions of dollars in revenue that membership guarantees can be a devastating blow. The Premier League’s so-called parachute payments help cushion some of the financial losses for up to three seasons, but the consequences of the difficult new circumstances often lead to the destruction of club budgets and the departure of players, managers and other staff. members
The prospect of fate befalling one club and then being reversed has infuriated even Premier League teams not involved in this year’s relegation fight. A Premier League executive recently expressed surprise that there had not been more coverage of the claims against Everton and the lack of urgency to adjudicate them; the official equated the accusations of non-compliance with financial rules with doping.
The Premier League declined to comment on Everton’s investigation or any attempt to rush it to completion. Everton has indicated that it will make an effort and fight against possible sanctions; when the Premier League charges were announced in March, the club said it was “prepared to vigorously defend” its position in front of the commission.
Yet even without the threat of relegation, Everton are a club in disarray. Its owner, Iranian-British businessman Farhad Moshiri, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on players since buying the club, only for its on-field results to collapse and a much-hyped stadium project at risk of stalling due to the shortage of funds. TO look for a new ownerAnnounced earlier this year, it has so far produced no savior.
The club’s financial problems worsened when Moshiri’s business partner, billionaire Alisher Usmanov, was sanctioned by the British government and the European Union for his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. That forced Everton to end its relationship with companies linked to Usmanov, which in recent years had invested millions in the club and projects such as the team’s half-built new stadium.
Everton fans have been protesting their ownership for much of the season, as they did last year when the team narrowly avoided relegation. On at least one occasion this season, police have advised Everton officials not to attend matches.