EXCLUSIVE: Premier League questioned by top-flight clubs over decision to charge Everton with breaching spending rules just NINE MONTHS after dismissing any potential case
- Sportsmail has learned executives told clubs last March there were no concerns
- Everton have vowed to defend themselves amid the charge on Friday afternoon
- The Premier League had previously been threatened by legal action from clubs
The Premier League are facing urgent questions from top-flight clubs over their decision to charge Everton with breaching spending rules just nine months after insisting that they had no case to answer.
A Premier League source explained the timing of the charge by saying the League had waited until they had fully audited accounts for 2021-22, which Everton were required under the rules to provide on March 1, before making any decision
Sportsmail has learned that Premier League executives told the clubs at a shareholders’ meeting last March that there were no concerns about potential breaches at Goodison Park, whilst at a subsequent meeting in the summer they were informed that Everton would be permitted to sign players during the transfer window as they were working with the Premier League to ensure they were compliant.
Everton were shocked to be charged with spending breaches on Friday afternoon as they have been submitting all major financial transactions such as new signings and player contracts to the Premier League for approval for two years, but other clubs are also frustrated at the timing of the charges, which could have an impact on the relegation battle for a second successive season.
Burnley and Leeds threatened legal action against the Premier League for their alleged failure to tackling Everton’s extravagance last May, but a potential £200million claim failed to materialise after they received reassurances that their spending was permissible due to Covid allowances.
Everton were plunged into a bitter row with the Premier League after being charged with breaching its spending rules
Sean Dyche’s side are in a relegation battle on the field but also face problems off it
Whilst there was never any real prospect of Everton being docked points and relegated last season there is considerably anger at other clubs that the issue was not dealt with last summer, with the result that any sporting sanction will not apply to this campaign either.
Sean Dyche’s side remain deep in relegation trouble, just two points above the bottom three, and any deduction this season may have sent them down to the Championship.
‘The Everton charge is very surprising,’ an executive at another club told Sportsmail. ‘We sat in front of the Premier League around March last year and they categorically told us there was no case to answer.
‘Then in the summer we were told that Everton could sign players as they were working together with the league to stay the right side of the line, and their Covid losses made them compliant. The Premier League made these points in open meetings and also held private meetings with individual clubs who had expressed concerns.’
Farhad Moshiri (left) and Bill Kenwright (right) have faced calls from supporters to resign
There have been several protests from Everton fans against the board this season
The Premier League’s decision to charge Everton is based on accounts for the 2021/22 season they received on 1 March, but the alleged overspending covers a four-year period from 2018/19 to 2021/12. Under Premier League rules clubs are only permitted to lose £105m over a three-year period, but following the pandemic the two seasons affected by Covid were put together and averaged out to arrive at the three-year figure.
Everton’s most recently published accounts for 2020/21 saw them lose £120.9million, which took the three-year loss figure to £371.8m, but they were signed off by the Premier League due to Covid allowances. The club are stunned to have been charged despite having continued to work closely with the Premier League and agreed to reduce their spending.
Brazilian forward Richarlison was sold for £60m to Tottenham last June and Everton’s losses in their 2021/22 accounts are understood to be far lower than the previous years, with informed sources estimating them at between £50m and £70m.
Everton did rush through the £60m sale of Brazilian forward Richarlison to Tottenham before the end of June last year, which will have helped offset these losses
Everton are the second Premier League club to be charged with breaking financial rules in as many months
There is a strong feeling at Everton and other clubs that the Premier League’s actions have been strongly influenced by a desire to show government that they are capable of enforcing their financial rules and regulating the sport as they seek to limit the scope of the new independent regulator, whose imminent arrival was confirmed in a White Paper issued last month.
Everton are the second Premier League club to be charged with breaking financial rules in as many months after Manchester City following 30 years in which not one single club was charged.
City’s extraordinary 101 charges were issued the week before the government published the independent regulator White Paper, which the club claimed was not a coincidence.
In another eyebrow-raising piece of timing Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is due to appear before a department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing into sport governance on Tuesday when he will be grilled by MP’s.
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