16/01/2024 9comments  |  Jump to last

Dave Kelly, Chair of the Everton Fan Advisory Board, has written to the Chair of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee raising his concerns over comments made by the Chief Executive of the Premier League, Richard Masters,  at a parliamentary hearing today regarding punishments for spending breaches.

In the hearing, before which Masters and English Football League Chair, Rick Parry, appeared, Masters was asked by Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Action, about the transparency of the process by which top-flight clubs are sanctioned for breaching Profitability and Sustainability rules (PSR).

Masters explained that the Premier League has an “open sanction regime and that is an active decision to leave it to the independent panel to decide [on the level of punishment]. Whilst that may not be clear, we believe it is the fairest way to do it.”

In his letter to Dame Caroline Dineage, Kelly argues that the assertion by Masters "directly contradicts the Premier League Commission report findings published on 17 November 2023, which stated that the Premier League adopted a sanctions policy at its Board meeting on 10 August 2023, and indeed subsequently presented that sanctions policy to the Commission as part of Mr Masters’ witness statement."

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Everton were deducted 10 points based on a ruling by an October 2023 independent commission that found the club to be in breach of PSR. That penalty is being appealed and today's Select Committee used part of today's hearing to ask Masters if a sanction, widely regarded as overly harsh, was part of an attempt by the Premier League to head off independent regulation.

The League Chair rejected the suggestion.

Dave Kelly's letter in full:

Dear Ms Dinenage,

I’m writing to you today on behalf of the Everton Fan Advisory Board to follow up on today’s Select Committee hearing about football governance at which you took evidence from Richard Masters, Chief Executive of the Premier League and Rick Parry, Chair of the English Football League.

First, I would like to thank you and committee members for continuing to bring scrutiny and oversight about the way in which football is governed and agree with your concluding remarks about the importance of the Football Governance Bill and an Independent Regulator being introduced as soon as possible.

The reason for writing to you, however, is in relation to comments made by Mr Masters about the Premier League’s approach to the sanctions policy applied to Everton Football Club. When questioned about the transparency of this by Rupa Huq MP, Mr Masters explained that the Premier League has an “open sanction regime and that is an active decision to leave it to the independent panel to decide.” He went on to say that “whilst that may not be clear, we believe it is the fairest way to do it.”

This directly contradicts the Premier League Commission report findings published on 17 November 2023, which stated that the Premier League adopted a sanctions policy at its Board meeting on 10 August 2023, and indeed subsequently presented that sanctions policy to the Commission as part of Mr Masters’ witness statement (see paras 86-90 of the Premier League Commission, attached).

Despite repeated requests, [neither] the minutes of the meeting at which that policy was agreed, nor the policy itself have ever been published.

Not only does this call into question the lack of clarity, transparency, and consistency in the Premier League’s approach – all of which are guiding principles for effective regulation – it also demonstrates an apparent inconsistency in the evidence provided by Mr Masters today to that he provided to the Premier League Commission.

I am sure your committee will take the earliest opportunity in inviting Mr Masters to clarify his remarks.

Finally, one of the key themes from today was the importance of ensuring that supporter perspectives are central to any reform to football governance. We welcome the work of the Football Supporters’ Association in providing this alongside the work of many fan representative groups up and down the country. As your committee continues to provide scrutiny on this issue as the Football Governance Bill passes through Parliament, we would kindly encourage you to ensure that your committee takes the opportunity to hear directly from individual fan groups and representatives – so that every effort can be made to ensure that the rhetoric of giving fan's a voice becomes reality.

The Everton Fan Advisory Board would be happy to contribute to any future session or call for evidence. I will write to you separately about this.

Yours sincerely

Dave Kelly
Chair, Everton Fan Advisory Board


Reader Comments (9)

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Si Cooper
1 Posted 17/01/2024 at 00:18:34
Perhaps I am reading this wrong but couldn't the sanction policy that the Premier League decided on at their 10 August 2023 meeting be “the open sanction regime left to the discretion of the independent board”?

I know that doesn't help our club but lately it seems well intentioned people are perhaps not making the sound arguments against our punishment that they think they are.

I would concentrate on justice needing to be delivered on the same timescale for everyone (our case should have had to wait for Man City's to also be ready for the verdict to be delivered), and the fact that the Premier League has created a scenario where only Everton could ever face a two-season sanction in the same season.

These two issues ably demonstrate that the system is not fair as it is.

Matt Traynor
2 Posted 17/01/2024 at 01:35:26
Si, one of the arguments is that a sporting sanction was inappropriate given the nature of the offence.

A 10-point penalty – even if it were not to result in relegation and the financial meltdown that would entail – would result in a potential loss of several league places, worth around £2.5m per place. Therefore, the argument has always been a fine is more appropriate rather than a sporting sanction which punishes the fans.

Years ago, when Rangers were demoted 3 divisions, "stripped" of titles over a 10-year period, it was for financial doping. Some of Man City's charges are way more serious. Do you honestly think a similar outcome will be levied? When potentially HMRC has been cheated? Of course not.

In their cack-handed efforts to show they don't need an independent regulator, they have made the case for cast iron.

We're "guilty" of having piss-poor ownership for over 2 decades. We have a lot in common with most other clubs throughout the leagues. As Andy Burnham said on Sunday, this is everyone's fight.

Gerry Killen
3 Posted 19/01/2024 at 03:34:34
Focus on Board Member Rick Parry, once head concho at LFC and a noted enemy of our beloved club, surely he must disqualify himself in this case against Everton Football Club?

He has a history of hating our club, yet he sits as Number Two on a panel that will decide our fate, it's like as though the Premier League has already decided our fate. God Bless the Blues.

Brendan McLaughlin
4 Posted 19/01/2024 at 07:10:33
Gerry #3

Rick Parry is chair of the EFL. Don't think he's involved in our current predicament but perhaps in the future if the Premier League get their way....

Tony Abrahams
5 Posted 19/01/2024 at 08:04:12
Looking at the disdain on his face at times the other day, Gerry, then if you asked Rick Parry, who he hated the most out of Everton or Richard Masters, I'm sure he would have a few good things to say about Everton, but absolutely none about the man he was sitting next to.
Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 19/01/2024 at 08:05:19
Good on Dave.

They are self-regulating and barely accountable.

We shouldn't take this without a fight.

By his own admission, the so-called rules (if they exist) aren't fit for purpose and will be changed in the summer.

It will be absolutely ridiculous if they persecute on something they know is wrong and are going to change.

Michael Kenrick
7 Posted 19/01/2024 at 08:12:51

I'm concerned you're letting a pathological hatred of Liverpool FC and anything whatsoever to do with them – which I share in completely – create an element of confusion here.

Rick Parry is not a Board Member of the Premier League, he has nothing whatsoever to do with our current trials and tribulations under the 'corrupt' Premier League, and he absolutely definitely is not sitting as Number Two on a panel that will decide our fate.

Where on earth did you get that from? Quite astounding how you can absorb or generate such an incredibly wrong amount of misinformation!

He was there to give the Football League's view on the so-called 'new deal' for football governance. Everton's situation only came up as an example of this and was not the purpose or intent of the session.

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 19/01/2024 at 08:31:52
My sister has worked for them for decades. My wife did too for a few years.

Rick Parry is a decent man.

Random one, attending their staff end-of-season party in 1995, the only player that turned up was McManaman.

Annoying pundit, but great footballer.

And that night, along with most of the staff, celebrated Everton's FA Cup victory.

As always, he has a job to do. But in person, he was fine. And an Evertonian.

Pete Neilson
9 Posted 19/01/2024 at 08:58:30
An excellent point raised by Dave Kelly.

Lying to a select committee can theoretically result in imprisonment or a substantial fine. Unfortunately the rules are very rarely enforced. Nobody fined since 1666, no custodial sentence since the 19th century and back to 1957 for the most recent attempt to charge anyone.

Highly unlikely but it'd be just deserts for Richard Masters to be harshly treated by rusty rules that aren't usually enforced.

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