28/10/2023 26comments  |  Jump to last

"When six clubs conspired towards the ruination of English football for their selfish ends, the Premier League knew exactly what to do," writes Martin Samuel. "It fined the European Super League rebels £22 million, collectively. So, roughly £3.66 million each for a plot that would have destroyed our domestic game. That showed them.

"Yet if Everton are proved to have contravened profit and sustainability rules, the same body is pushing for a 12-point deduction. So, pretty much, relegation.

"Why did Everton misspend their finances? Because they were trying to compete. Oligarchs, sovereign wealth funds and American venture capitalist groups have raised the bar for investment so high that Mike Ashley — a man with a net worth of £3.84 billion according to the Sunday Times Rich List — felt he could not participate as Newcastle United owner. So in came a sovereign wealth fund, and now they’re in the mix. But that doesn’t make it any easier for Everton."

» Read the full article at The Times

Reader Comments (26)

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Matt Byrne
1 Posted 28/10/2023 at 22:12:49
It's worth taking a look at Martin Samuel's take on the alleged 12-point penalty. He talks about the Premier League's lack of consistency and how they should have relegated the Sly 6 to the Championship.

About time a big hitter journalist spoke up for us. There needs to be many more voices speaking up for us. Carragher did. The likes of Gray and Lineker and many more need to chip in now to balance things up.

Tony Everan
2 Posted 28/10/2023 at 22:39:53
Excellent article, about time someone talked some common sense in the mainstream press. Thank you to Martin Samuel for speaking out about the blatant double standards. The dice is so loaded that it’s time for a full review of the rules and regulations.
Jeff Armstrong
3 Posted 28/10/2023 at 22:48:49
About a week too late though, Samuels article stinks of being a week old.
Jerome Shields
4 Posted 28/10/2023 at 23:28:17
All good news building up pressure on the Premier League, because of their inconsistency in dealing with clubs who cross the line. They have to think twice before imposing penalties on Everton, because there could be controversy as the dead bodies of their inaction surface.
Christine Foster
5 Posted 28/10/2023 at 23:38:25
Darn pay wall..
Ben King
6 Posted 28/10/2023 at 23:50:31
Late it may be but at least someone in the media is speaking up for what is rife double standards.

We need more voices of course: and we definitely need a PR unit worthy of the name at the club.

We might not like it but part of the game is now played off the pitch. Adapt or die. And there's forces out there that want us dead so we'd better adapt or else we can take our -12 points and go home.

Ahead of the next derby, we ought to make a big song and dance about having a fair ref.

I'm sure Moyes did the same thing and whilst Suarez celebrated scoring with a dive in front of him, the shite had their winner chalked off for offside when it was a good goal… just shows how getting in the officials' heads makes a difference.

Paul Ferry
7 Posted 29/10/2023 at 00:25:43
Frigging pay wall!

I'm not paying to read that Tory rag, which began life, by the way, in the 18th Century, very much on what we would call the left today.

But I wouldn't say no if someone was to paste the original article on here, especially if Tony thinks highly of it.

It does feel like it's a little late but I'm glad that it exists as it's important to have this point of view in the public domain. Wouldn't it be nice if others followed Martin Samuels and a momentum was established that one day becomes the voice of the disenfranchised fans in the same way as The Times supported the disenfranchised two centuries or so ago?

Christine, I hope you're not too upset after the rugger final. I thought that New Zealand got some Everton VAR treatment today.

Alan J Thompson
8 Posted 29/10/2023 at 05:06:53
Fair doos, I mean, think of all that alimony that a man of Mr Murdoch's age has to pay and at an age when he would hardly have got his money's worth.
Tony Everan
9 Posted 29/10/2023 at 06:49:31
Christine, Paul.

Matt# 1 kindly posted a link to read it but it's disappeared. Here's a link from Grand Old Team.


Christine Foster
10 Posted 29/10/2023 at 07:32:17
Thanks, Tony, it's a circus, it's not interested in fairness or justice, just the perception of threat. Like an attack dog when its Top 6 are threatened... close ranks.
Peter Mills
11 Posted 29/10/2023 at 09:17:09
Tony #9 - Thanks for doing that.
Dave Williams
12 Posted 29/10/2023 at 10:03:29
Samuel is one of the big hitters in sport journalism and I believe he was in good terms with Bill. If this ruling goes against us then we need him and other fair minded journos to raise merry he’ll about the unfairness of it all.
FFP is outdated as transfer fees and salaries have escalated to such an extent that 90% of clubs cannot live within those rules and have to be funded by Rich owners who are happy to pay out of their own pocket and sooner or later their club will breach FFP rules. The whole thing needs scrapping as it is not fit for purpose.
Danny Baily
13 Posted 29/10/2023 at 10:12:49
I wouldn't worry. I can't see us being hit with a 12 point deduction, or any points deduction for that matter. From what I can gather, a suspended fine or, at worst, a transfer embargo will be the outcome if we're found to have breached the rules.
Brian Harrison
14 Posted 29/10/2023 at 10:42:13
As well as the important point that Martin Samuels makes about the unfair treatment of Everton compared to what the 6 clubs threatening to destroy the Premier league. His other point is just as important, that even Billionaires are finding funding a Premier league club to expensive, and so it seems that we have got into such a state that Only nation states like the UAE and Saudi Arabia has the money to fund clubs.

How have we allowed our sport to end up in such a financial mess, most clubs are struggling financially and why, because most of the money the clubs make goes straight to the bank accounts of the players. Clubs are playing journeymen footballers more in a week that surgeons get in a year, and you don't have to be a regular first team player to earn these salaries. Surely it cant be far off when clubs are going to have to introduce a salary cap, that is independently monitored.

Paul Hewitt
15 Posted 29/10/2023 at 10:55:52
the only way football can go back to being a sport, Is for the big six to go and start their super league. Seriously I can't wait.
Tom Cannon
16 Posted 29/10/2023 at 11:40:13
I think as football fans or supporters it's easy to assume that there is some football logic in either this shameful leak of the story in the press while Everton's Chairman was gravely ill in hospital. I'd like to think he'd didn't know about it.

Back to the assumption of football logic. The minute one looks at the decision-makers at the Premier League, any suggestion of that goes out the window. Which of the Directors would put football first – the Hedge Fund operator or the former Sky Executive?

The politics of the decision have nothing to do with football. It's either – at best – a “look out tough we are” statement for those politicians arguing for a football regulator … possibly someone interested in the game – or let's kick someone without the almost infinite financial resources of a football fanatical, human rights loving country like Abu Dhabi.

The Premier League is rotten at its core and talk of Financial Fair Play is nonsense when the only beneficiaries are the oil rich or dollar rich.

Remember the dark days when teams like Burnley, Sunderland, Derby County … even Everton won things? Or in Europe where this nonsense was started by that well known ethical regulator, Michel Platini – at least before he was banned – where teams like Celtic, PSV, Ajax … could win the European Cup?

Well Financial Fair Play ended all this, but I suspect most of us didn't expect that.

Niall McIlhone
17 Posted 29/10/2023 at 12:58:40
Danny (#13),

I sincerely hope you are right.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
18 Posted 29/10/2023 at 16:30:24
1. Totally agree - picking on Everton not the big guys. If FPP was in place - Chelsea would be nowhere.

2. FPP is a cartel. You have to earn lots of money from being a popular club and you cannot do that without spending lots of money to become a successful club - but doing that means you fall foul of FPP so cannot, which means you cannot get lots of income and so have the money. They should re-make Catch-22 with it being the Premier League, not WW2.

3. After today, I am less worried about 12 points. 25% of the season gone and none of the promoted clubs are doing any better than the ones who got relegated last season. 45 points should see us safe and we are +2 so far to 38 already.

Jerome Shields
19 Posted 29/10/2023 at 16:38:57
Danny #13,

I think you are right. A 12-point penalty is anti-football.

To a football organisation like the Premier League, a long-established traditional club, with a multi-million pound Stadium being built; who agreed to be monitored and did try its best to remedy its situation; with other Premier League clubs being shown leniency, and with one breach, will all count for something.

Also, Everton supporters I find outside our neighbours are favoured by other supporters and enough elements of the media for the Premier League not to come under some pressure against making a severely damaging decision to Everton's future.

Anyway, Bill's mourning period will demand respect. Like the Queen passing at Balmoral, finishing Scottish Independent forever.

God bless her and him.

Brian Wilkinson
20 Posted 29/10/2023 at 18:00:35
The £3.6 Million each fine was quashed, so none of the clubs paid a single penny of the fine, they got away Scot free.
Dennis Stevens
21 Posted 29/10/2023 at 18:18:02
I'd have thought any sanction is likely to be suspended, apart from possible restrictions on transfer activity; otherwise, it'll be difficult to apply suspended sentences to other miscreants in the future.

Hopefully, it'll be a case of waving a big stick, at worst, rather than actually hitting us with it.

Paul Ferry
22 Posted 29/10/2023 at 19:42:20
Thanks for posting the link Tony.

The one thing I disagree about with him is that I wouldn't be so sure that a twelve-point deduction would consign us to "oblivion" or the Championship at any rate. With the likes of Sheffield Utd, Burnley, and Luton, this might not be the worst season to get a points deduction!

This is a fine piece of writing by Martin Samuel and the sarcastic digs make it even sharper and cutting, There is little that is new in what he writes, we've been summing it up in crisp one-liners for years: "top-6 bias", "dodgy VAR top-6 favouritsm" and so on (although it is important to remember now that the shite are officially the main VAR victims). The difference is that this article is the work of a highly-respected and widely-admired writer who has keys to get into some important places.

I actually wonder if a points deduction did take place, if it might become one of the biggest own goals in Premier League history. There would be enormous pressure on the powers that be to be consistent and proportionate in the City case. Also, we might actually emerge as the "test case/club"/poster boy with a real sympathetic surge of support from across the country. Not for us necessarilly but for the plight we would be in that itself would be a powerful expression of the state of football today that any Wolves, Palace, Norwich, or Leicester fan would climb on board with.

Danny Baily
23 Posted 29/10/2023 at 20:15:59
Let's be honest; a 12 point deduction would almost certainly see us relegated, even with the poor crop of sides in the league this season. But I can't see a points deduction being applied. And today's result is just what we needed to help us steer clear of that mess in the run up to Christmas (although we might have said that about palace at home last season). Six or so more wins and we're there.
Paul Ferry
24 Posted 29/10/2023 at 20:58:56
I don't actually think that it would be as inevitable as that Danny. Like you, I hope that we end up with a slap on the wrist rather than a points cut, and the main reason not to apply it from the League's perspective, I think, has nothing to do with us but with the question of what to do with Man-City.

I actually think that we are quite likely to end up with twelve points more than each one of Luton, Burnley, and Sheffield Utd. Those three, with Bournemouth, have won three of their last twenty matches; we have won three of our last five. The bottom three have ten points between them after ten games; the same total as us.

Michael Kenrick
25 Posted 30/10/2023 at 09:45:04
I see there’s another article, this one by Sam Wallace in the Telegraph, also carried by the Irish Independent… both behind paywalls.

From the title, it may be similar to this one…

Brian Denton
26 Posted 02/11/2023 at 20:13:41
It's a few months out of date, but I took a copy of this article. It covers some of the same ground, although it probably adopts a position more sympathetic to City than we might allow.

Asterisks next to the roll call of league champions? All for it. Start in 2013-14 and go from there.

“This league was won,” the asterisk would indicate, “under protectionist regulations known as Financial Fair Play (FFP). These prevented owners investing fully in their businesses, making the established elite clubs stronger and weakening their smaller opponents. The clubs that stood to gain the most helped to shape these rules in which limits were placed on ambition and the potential for competition.” Obviously, the asterisks would have to start a little earlier for the Champions League, where FFP has been running since 2011-12.

Not the asterisks you imagined? You may support one of the clubs whose followers are most obsessed with caveats, FFP and the need for clubs to grow organically. Not their clubs, of course. Those giant, established clubs did their organic growing — and some that was heavily reliant on owner investment, too — when there were no financial controls beyond those governing all businesses, which is as it should be. It’s just these other clubs that need to be controlled. Manchester City, obviously, but Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Everton and all the rest getting ideas above their station. They need to be told how to run their businesses, until such a time as the “big six” want to break free again and join Real Madrid and friends because, let’s face it, nobody wants to watch the smaller clubs because they’re not competitive enough.

Manchester United versus Wolves is no match for Manchester United versus Barcelona. Yet why is that? Last week, the Wolves head coach, Julen Lopetegui, emerged from a meeting with Jeff Shi, the owner, very disheartened. Wolves are now safe in 13th place but it wasn’t so long ago that they feared relegation. Lopetegui arrived with a fire to put out but had good reason to believe if he succeeded, this was a club with ambition. Wolves have finished in the top half of the table in three of the four previous seasons and a strong and smart relationship with the agent, Jorge Mendes, has allowed them to mine young talent, particularly from Portugal.

But not this summer. “I know now there are some Financial Fair Play problems that I didn’t know before,” Lopetegui said. “I hope we will solve this issue because it is very difficult to compete in the Premier League without investment.”

Indeed. Ask Leicester, staring at relegation seven seasons after winning the league. There is now a fear that Wolves could lose their head coach over what he regards as broken promises. As for Leicester, it’s such a shame when bad things happen to good exceptions. Leicester were the poster club for those who claimed FFP wouldn’t only deliver the prizes to the established order each season. Yet last summer those same rules meant selling their best defender, Wesley Fofana, to Chelsea and rejecting the manager’s request for a much-needed rebuild.

So now Leicester are likely to be relegated. Do most modern Premier League owners have the funds to finance investment in their project? Yes. Are they allowed? No. Because they cannot grow in any significant way they must sit, ripe for plunder, as their best players are taken away piecemeal, as has happened at Southampton. And everyone knows it. The summer after Leicester delivered the greatest title win in history, they lost two players to Chelsea, who had finished tenth. And nobody was surprised. Of course Chelsea were the better long-term bet. Where were Leicester actually going, a club of that size and limited potential? FFP had them firmly in hand, in a way Chelsea were not, and never will be.

The irony being that the original targets of FFP were Roman Abramovich and Chelsea. Yet by the time the rules were in place, Chelsea had their feet under the table and were so cosy that Abramovich actually supported regulations as a way of keeping out an even bigger threat: City.

The former Uefa president, Michel Platini, used to dumbly cite Abramovich’s backing for FFP as evidence that his big idea was working. It didn’t occur to him that Abramovich saw its protectionist worth the moment he got inside the castle before the drawbridge went up. In the first season of Uefa’s FFP rules, the Champions League was won by Chelsea; and in its second season as a Premier League framework, the title went their way, too.

Abramovich was suddenly a supporter of a system that would prevent another owner investing as he had. This is why, find a poster, or caller, enraged by City’s regulatory rule breaches and it tends to be a follower of one of the clubs that got to sculpt the rules and are now deeply disappointed by how it is turning out. The rest, those who would like to step across the VIP cordon occasionally but find they can’t, tend to see all the Super League wannabes as the same. Why would a fan of Wolves back a system that could place the club where Leicester are now in one year’s time, and also cost them a very good manager?

The reaction to City’s latest title win is revealing because it tends to split on straight lines. City fans on one side, obviously. Yet a lot of those whose clubs sit outside that Champions League scramble are no admirers of FFP or the established elite either. They see it as a carve-up, too. Why would a supporter of Newcastle United get behind a system that submits any sponsorship with a Saudi Arabian company to stringent related-party regulations, yet allows Manchester United to mine the wealth of the same nation carefree? Why would fans of Everton or Leeds United, clubs that are seeking investment, champion regulations that would lessen the impact if any could be found?

Even the Manchester United stalwart Gary Neville now says he is uncomfortable with rules that are tantamount to restraint of trade. “I’ve got a real problem with FFP, I’ve had it for a long time,” he said this week. “It was driven through by the established elite so that clubs like City, clubs like Chelsea, couldn’t compete with them — basically they can always pat them on the head and say ‘stay down there’. I think a new Jack Walker [the former Blackburn Rovers owner] in any town should be able to drive their team. I like the idea that Sunderland could one day compete for the Champions League and compete for the Premier League title, but under FFP you’re only allowed to spend the money that your revenue allows, so you’ll always be down there.”

Quite why he wants a government regulator to enforce more of that red tape who knows, but that’s long been my argument against FFP, too. Indeed, it’s always been my argument since first denouncing it in a Times column on June 30, 2008, more than a month before Sheikh Mansour’s unexpected takeover of City, and before the term Financial Fair Play had even been minted. Back then, it was just a twinkle in Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Bayern Munich’s eye. Turned out rather well for them since, you may note.

What’s it been like, swimming against the FFP tide for 15 years? A bit like that Family Guy scene where Peter tells them all he did not care for The Godfather. “It insists upon itself,” he explains. As does FFP. Everyone discusses it now as if billionaires showing a financial profit is a fabulous new trophy. So it has worked, this sleight of hand, this gaming of the system. Now people think football is more accountancy than artistry or athleticism and they want the asterisk to go against the name of the English team that plays the best football, possibly ever.

The alleged inaccurate reporting of finances is supposed to trump any beauty we have seen. And doesn’t that cut to the heart of the modern game? After all, how many times do fans leave the stadium with spotless accountancy the only light in a bleak horizon? “Well, we might have been stuffed by Middlesbrough again, lads, but what about the accurate reporting of our finances, eh? If you excuse me, I must rush home to craft a giant flag for when our accountants come by on an open-top bus.”

And the sums should add up, of course, as they must in any business. Yet in no other field has owner investment, the type that sparks the ignition of invention and success, been imbued with a scent of criminality. So if City have done wrong, they will be punished, and those are the rules of the game. But those rules and where the asterisks go: let’s just say I beg to differ.

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