08/02/2024 64comments  |  Jump to last

Yasin Patel and Caitlin Haberlin-Chambers undertake a thorough analysis of Everton’s grounds for appealing the 10-point deduction levied by the Premier League in November, delving into the intricate intersection of political and legal issues. 

Beyond the microcosm of Everton’s fate, the article will also explore the ripple effects this landmark decision may send across other football clubs, illuminating the broader implications for financial fair play and regulatory compliance within the Premier League.

» Read the full article at Church Court Chambers

Reader Comments (64)

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Iain Crawford
1 Posted 08/02/2024 at 10:39:59
Great detail of Everton’s case and appeal from Yasmin Patel of Church Court Chambers.

Well worth a read.

Michael Kenrick
2 Posted 08/02/2024 at 13:18:44
Thanks for posting this link, Iain.

It looks like a good review of the legal issues but I'm concerned about a couple of errors I've spotted already:

"The crux of the Premier League’s case against Everton stems from alleged financial transgressions during the 2021-22 season.

As we all know by now, I'm sure, this is not strictly true: it's the 3- or 4-year period (with Covid) ending with Season 2021-22.

"As per the Premier League Handbook 2023/24…

I'm very sure the referral to the independent commission was brought under the rule in the 2022/23 Handbook (or the previous one?) But definitely not 2023/24 and the subsequent reference to:

"Standard Directions set out at Appendix 1 to these Rules."

I've made the same mistake; those Standard Directions do not apply to Everton's first breach and are therefore irrelevant to the appeal.

But I'm still reading... it's a Long Read!

Brian Harrison
3 Posted 08/02/2024 at 14:09:03

My very simple take on the P&S rules that apply to Premier League teams and the FFP which apply to teams who qualify for Europe is that neither is fair nor intended to create a level playing field. In fact I would go as far as to say they create quite the opposite.

I would also ask what is the purpose of either the P&S or the FFP ruling? It certainly doesn't deter an owner loading a club with massive debts, and there is no punishment for the owner who did it because, as the rules stand, the punishment is ruled against the club not the owner, and all the Premier League can do is stop him ever owning another Premier League club.

Whereas if they just adopt Gary Neville's plan which is every owner signs a legal bond that he can't leave the club in a worse financial position than when he took over, then the club is financially protected and there is no need for P&S.

Let's not forget that the commission handing down the 10-point deduction stated quite clearly that Everton didn't gain a sporting advantage, so surely apart from an owner loading his club with massive debts the only other reason for breaking P&S is to gain a sporting advantage.

So if both Uefa and the Premier League adopt his bond scheme, every body wins, but of course the reason these rules were brought in was to try and stop what Man City did.

Surely what would have made more sense is to say no nation state could own a football club, that would have stopped Man City's, PSG's and possibly Newcastle's method of club ownership.

Michael Kenrick
4 Posted 08/02/2024 at 14:27:22
Lots of good stuff in there, Brian, and I'll try to circle back later on some of those points.

But the one that leaps out at me is something that admittedly has been said repeatedly by various folk who claim as you do that: "the commission … stated quite clearly that Everton didn't gain a sporting advantage".

Let's just stop for a second and think about this. Such a statement must occur in clear and unambiguous text within the commission's findings for that to be true, Yes?

For you to repeat it so convincingly might suggest you have read that statement yourself… although this is where I have my doubts. Because I cannot find anywhere in the commission's findings where it says that.

In fact, the commission state the opposite, in very simple terms: because Everton have breached PSR, they have gained a sporting advantage — and furthermore, they must be punished with a sporting sanction — a points deduction.

There should be no confusion on this… but unfortunately there is , and there has been ever since someone made that false statement pretty soon after the verdict back in November — but it's fake news!

John Keating
5 Posted 08/02/2024 at 14:37:41
I just hope our legal eagle has managed to convince the so-called "independent" appeals panel on matters raised in the article.
Brendan McLaughlin
6 Posted 08/02/2024 at 14:38:30
Michael #4,

I think the confusion arises because the Commission ruled that Everton did not breach the rules specifically to gain a sporting advantage.

Nevertheless, as you state, the Commission also clearly concluded that a sporting advantage did accrue.

Robert Tressell
7 Posted 08/02/2024 at 14:44:23
Brian, unfortunately Gary Neville's legal bond idea is like asking people to sign a declaration not to commit murder when buying a knife or gun.

It's all meaningless unless (in the context of a business) there's a wider set of measures such as capital reserves in the even things go pear-shaped (as per banks and insurance companies and others). Or perhaps fan co-ownership to prevent thick people doing thick things.

Jim Wilson
8 Posted 08/02/2024 at 14:47:47
Agree, Michael @ 4, about it saying 'Everton have breached PSR, they have gained a sporting advantage'.

What I don't understand is how the commission conclude that there was a sporting advantage and how on earth do you measure a £19.5M overspend?

£19.5M is nothing when buying a player — and Everton's general spending made team performances worse not better.

Then of course the mitigating circumstances can cover £19.5M as can inflation.

And of course the Tevez 'sporting advantage equals fine' is the precedent here.

Michael Kenrick
9 Posted 08/02/2024 at 15:00:37

The commission admitted it was difficult to quantify the sporting advantage, which I think is why they reverted to the highly simplistic logic that: you breached PSR, therefore, by definition, you gained a sporting advantage. So, in their own terms, they did not need to prove or quantify a sporting advantage.

I sincerely hope this was something Mr Rabinowitz laid into with vim and vigour because it's entirely arbitrary, swinging on the classification of interest on loans, or player values claimed and unsold, or impacts of Covid, or the intolerable loss of our leading playmaker.

Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 08/02/2024 at 15:12:55
It's along read but some paragraphs give hope that we will come out of this appeal positively.

The paragraphs that make me believe this come under the headings of:
1. Unjust Sporting Sanctions.
2. Unfair Trial.
3. Unfair Treatment: Disparities In Punishment.
4 Impact on Other Clubs.

And final the last paragraph which makes it clear that the Commission which found us guilty and imposed the 10 points sentence did not disclose things about themselves which showed a bias from positions they held previously or were in that they were unsuitable to judge Everton's case fairly.

Brian Harrison
11 Posted 08/02/2024 at 15:19:09
Robert @7,

I have to say I find your analogy of Gary Neville's bond scheme bizarre. What his bond scheme does is quite clearly spell out to potential owners what the criteria will be. So, if they don't like the rules, then don't buy the club is a very clear message.

Unlike the Premier League, they will be very aware of the rules before they transgress them. The bond idea stops this nonsense of there being a maximum anyone can spend. I know of no other industry which limits how much an owner can invest in his business.

When Sir John Moores was our chairman, he could buy any player in the country and turned us into a very successful club. Also, all his loans to the club were interest-free.

Michael Kenrick
12 Posted 08/02/2024 at 15:55:00
Having read the article in full, there's no date given, so I have to think that it is at least a month old, with no mention of Nottingham Forest or the second PSR charge.

Also interesting that he ran with the commission independence question: per his references, that circles back to an editorial Lyndon posted here on 20 November. And that's not the only ToffeeWeb reference either.

Overall, I think he was right to focus on the really offhand and derisory treatment given to some very substantial mitigation issues that were just brushed aside. But the arguments need to have been presented in a much stronger manner – assuming they were even admissible in the appeal hearing.

Unfair hearings, process and treatment is much more problematic, I think, Dave @10, but that may well have been our only grounds for reconsideration. All we can do is wait until 'mid-February' for the verdict.

Andrew Ellams
13 Posted 08/02/2024 at 16:34:31
Meanwhile, the FA Cup could be used to trial blue sin bin cards from next year. Another tool to fix the game in favour of the favourites.
Brendan McLaughlin
14 Posted 08/02/2024 at 23:15:03
The depressing thing is that – despite all the rhetoric we've heard since the appeal was launched – there's no standout arguement.

We're hopeful rather than optimistic.

Jerome Shields
15 Posted 09/02/2024 at 04:06:14
In my experience of Legal action this is not a Legal Action since it is not in a court of law and therefore the parameters are different and my be even uncertain, being open to change.The appeal is against the result of that action and in itself has similar parameters.

Therefore for Everton to stand any chance in the appeal the narrative of unfairness that has built up in the Media has to come into play IMO for Everton to have any chance of reducing the points deduction.All the sanction will not be withdraw, because the Premier League cannot, since they must have a Process going forward and Masters &Co are not about to lose face.

In the light of the above IMO the appeal will result in deduction to 8 points, but hope it is reduced to 6 points. The latter I find hard to square since Everton are facing another Commission which is likely to be a 6 points deduction.

The only other scenario is that Everton benefit from the attempted bare faced changes in August by the Premier League to align with Uefa's new FFP rules in a attempt to distance itself from the realms of Government football regulation.

Derek Thomas
16 Posted 09/02/2024 at 07:17:00
When the dust settles...whenever the fuck that happens (Justice delayed is justice denied!) I expect (hope) to see Forest in the bottom 3 and Everton 2 or 3pts ahead depending if we get 4 or 5pts back... if !
Dave Waugh
17 Posted 09/02/2024 at 08:59:06
Well, we've still not heard anything from the PL (not surprised) as, by yesterday, they were supposed to provid:

"1. the full version your witness statement presented to the Independent Commission;

2. the minutes of the Premier League board meeting of 10 August 2023 when it agreed the formula presented to the Independent Commission."

Have they been cornered by the DCMS?

Jerome Shields
18 Posted 09/02/2024 at 09:15:47
Gary Neville's Bond idea might work, but I can't see the Premier League adopting it.

I have never watched The Apprentice, but happened to flick over when Gary Neville was on. A Football Memorabilia guy was making a pitch.

Gary managed to reject the pitch on principle with the others, but in the summing up arranged a meeting with the guy off camera. No flies on Gary.

Robert Tressell
19 Posted 09/02/2024 at 09:50:42
Brian # 11. What does the bond actually do? It seems to ask buyers to promise not to leave the club in a worse state or cough up if they do.

But what happens if the buyer breaks his promise?

The club or FA can go after his money?

What if the money isn't there?

What if it is overseas in Saudi or China?

Unfortunately there are lots of examples in the commercial world of empty promises. That's why regulators require visible, accessible pools of capital available to prop things up if the worst happens. Or lots of red tape to keep business owners on the straight and narrow

Robert Tressell
20 Posted 09/02/2024 at 09:54:31
ps: There are also lots of industries governed by financial sustainability rules stop reckless management.

Football can fairly easily borrow from these frameworks to achieve what is intended by the bond.

Pat Kelly
21 Posted 09/02/2024 at 10:57:42
Whether we gained a sporting advantage or not, we sought to gain an advantage by exceeding the spending rules.

The fact that the spending was wasted is hardly an excuse. We are not getting off scot-free. Incompetence is not a redeeming factor.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
22 Posted 09/02/2024 at 11:47:44
Pat, the real question is how quick can you turn around an oil tanker.

The trajectory was set back in 2016-17-18. Everything I suggest would have been fine if interest rates had not shot up, the price of steel shot up, Russian sponsorship had not stopped and a few others such as a midfield robbed by Manchester Constabulary's snail-like pace. How much of this was taken into account and excluded – sorry no idea but I know these were reasons.

When these things came over the horizon, all together and very quickly, then the only way out was to have sold anybody and everybody and as Forest argue about their delay in selling Johnson to Spurs for a lot less money because buyers knew you were desperate (look at Leeds back in the noughties).

The oil tanker that was Everton could not turn that quickly – proved by the fact that we have a second charge because we could not get rid of the stuff that made up the first.

Danny Baily
23 Posted 09/02/2024 at 12:08:38
Phil 22, we have a second charge because it covers the same accounting period that resulted in the first charge. There's nothing we could have done in the interim to avoid the second charge, having been sanctioned for the first.

Pat 21, don't fall into this trap. We haven't done anything wrong in any meaningful way, and certainly nothing to warrant a sporting sanction.

Brendan McLaughlin
24 Posted 09/02/2024 at 13:22:02
Pat #21,

It's a strange one. Pretty sure the first Commission report stated that Everton had not deliberately sought to gain a sporting advantage.

Begs the question what exactly were Everton trying to achieve in breaching PSR if not a sporting advantage?

Rob Halligan
25 Posted 09/02/2024 at 13:26:21
Pat # 21…

The spending was towards the stadium, so hardly wasted, and maybe the advantage gained was to get it finished a week earlier!

Michael Kenrick
26 Posted 09/02/2024 at 13:47:02
Brendan @24,

"Begs the question what exactly were Everton trying to achieve in breaching PSR if not a sporting advantage?"

I think that gives the powers that were at Everton far too much credit for structuring an excess loss that would provide some benefit.

The truth is much more likely they bumbled along not maintaining a real-time grasp on the overall PSR calculation until well after the fact, and then believing firmly that the various mitigations were anyway strongly in their favour, and they had been cooperating with the Premier League on transfers for 2 years anyway, so no way they would be charged.

That's the utter incompetence of the Everton Board at the end of the day. But being all pally with the Premier League clearly over a 2-year period lulled them into a false assumption that they wouldn't be charged. And when they were charged, they firmly believed they had a robust defence.

So, rather than trying to achieve anything, they were I believe totally caught cold by the charge, by the aggressive pursuit of the case against them in the hearing, and then by the unbelievable sanction.

Brent Stephens
27 Posted 09/02/2024 at 13:59:21
Brendan #24 and Michael #26,

I suspect you're both right in that Everton thought there'd be a sporting advantage in some of the decisions they made; and / but at the same time "bumbled along not maintaining a real-time grasp on the overall PSR calculation until well after the fact" – consistent with what are referred to as incremental and garbage-can views of decision making.

Ian Jones
28 Posted 09/02/2024 at 14:05:09
Dave @17,

The info may well have been provided before the deadline. I doubt if anyone would make it public so soon after the deadline. That would be hoping for too much...

Pat Kelly
29 Posted 09/02/2024 at 14:44:20
Rob #35,

I'm sure we can all think of a number of players Everton wasted money on over the last few years.

They're still at it with Beto (and Chermiti?) with that expenditure being kicked down the road.

Jay Harris
30 Posted 09/02/2024 at 15:43:38
Football Insider reporting an inside source has stated we may be disappointed with the appeal.

Whether that means we will not get any points back or just a few points back is not made clear despite "The inside source" but for me the argument is clear and for the sake of repetition I will summarize them:-

The impact of Covid

The war in Ukraine and the sanctioning of our £20M sponsor

The economic collapse post Covid

The £760M stadium build while other clubs were given a relatively free stadium (giving them a sporting advantage!!).

Sigurdsson unable to play or be sold: £45M amortized in the accounts and therefore written off against profits.

We were open and working with the Premier League who, until the threat of losing power to the government, were happy to accept the situation.

Previous precedents of transgressions did not carry anything like a 10-point deduction.

£19.5M is pocket money in the Premier League world of finance.

Danny Baily
31 Posted 09/02/2024 at 15:44:51
Statement from Thelwell may mean the announcement is imminent. Reading between the lines it's not going to be a positive outcome.
Dave Lynch
32 Posted 09/02/2024 at 15:53:22
There is now a report on the BBC that a club is threatening to sue the PL over yet another rule change regarding funding.

It is also reported that they are struggling to fund the EFL...

Les Callan
33 Posted 09/02/2024 at 15:59:38
What’s the statement Danny ?
Rob Halligan
34 Posted 09/02/2024 at 16:10:24
Les, I’m guessing Danny means this, but I can’t see anything within the statement, that indicates it’s not going to be a positive outcome, basically just saying what we already know………


Paul Hewitt
35 Posted 09/02/2024 at 16:26:47
Reading that BBC article. Looks like the Premier League could soon be falling apart.
Dave Lynch
36 Posted 09/02/2024 at 16:32:42
That went through my mind as well Paul.
Rob Halligan
37 Posted 09/02/2024 at 16:37:11
Who’d argue that the club in question is Man City?
Dave Lynch
38 Posted 09/02/2024 at 16:40:30
Or Utd after their recent new investment and wanting to build a "Wembley of the North"
Anthony Hawkins
39 Posted 09/02/2024 at 16:46:59
Interestingly, Sky hasn't reported the potential Premier League legal challenge. It also looks like the changes were pushed through rather than fully agreed.

I'm curious why the Premier League cannot be in a position to have outlined a funding package? The £900M is agreed, surely it just goes from one account to another and the EFL agrees it's disbursement?

"...and stipulations around cost controls in the Championship have stalled completion of the deal."

Really? The Premier League trying to control the lower divisions?

Kieran Kinsella
40 Posted 09/02/2024 at 16:49:01

There are several issues with the bond idea and that you can't leave the club finances in a worst state than you found them.

Generally, clubs that do well do so by spending money e.g. Chelsea, City etc they all banked on the idea of spending a bunch of money, assuming it would garner success and then income would follow in the form of better commercial deals, prize money etc. Every club does this to an extent even if on a smaller scale. It may be banking on still being in the EPL, finishing in a certain place etc but if you truly could hold them accountable if things didn't work out then who would want to buy a team? Who would risk that if things go wrong (e.g. external factors covid, sanctions, star player having career ending injury, political issues, economic recession, tech developments that affect income sources such as TV) then you're screwed.

The other issue you have is enforceability. If you had a wealthy owner in good faith trying to manage things responsibly if external factors hit that person (think Peter Johnson's hamper business) then the owner is not in a position to bankroll the club and improve its finances. Bond or no bond if he or she goes bankrupt, dies or whatever you cannot get blood out of a stone.

The other thing to consider is that you get mavericks who would probably arrogantly sign such things thinking of only the upside (e.g. the old Bury owner, old Portsmouth owner etc) and these kind of charlatans would do everything that can (e.g. multi-layered LLCs to protect their own assets, transferring assests overseas or to family members) to avoid any personal financial loss if things went downhill. In essence the bond would leave us exactly where we are.

Dave Lynch
41 Posted 09/02/2024 at 16:58:10
We shouldn't worry.
Didn't The Esk say as much.🙄
Jerome Shields
42 Posted 09/02/2024 at 17:18:55
Michael #26,

The best description yet of the Everton Board at that time.

Rob Jones
43 Posted 09/02/2024 at 17:25:13
Pat Kelly, why do you insist on putting your rubbish about Beto and Chermiti into every fucking post?

We get it: they're not very good!!!

But they're all we could afford. Change the record, for fuck's sake.

Jay, Football Insider have absolutely no credibility.

Tony Abrahams
44 Posted 09/02/2024 at 17:38:09
I would definitely second that Jerome👍
Kieran Kinsella
46 Posted 09/02/2024 at 21:18:02

Most important clue in his letter is his signature which looks like a letter O with a little sideways wiggle. It doesn't seem to contain any letters of his name and is illegible. According to Graphologists this means:

"An illegible signature cannot be easily read. You are deceptive or manipulative and have created a public image that no one should understand."

Les Callan
47 Posted 09/02/2024 at 21:39:28
John. I can’t make head nor tail of that reply. I must be getting old.
Brendan McLaughlin
48 Posted 09/02/2024 at 22:50:41
Michael #26,

I just don't buy the incompetence angle.

I believe Everton knew exactly where we were in terms of PSR but unfortunately fell into the trap that we felt the Premier League approach was so "light touch" we could spin any old yarn.

Unfortunately, when the Premier League started asking awkward questions... the shit hit the fan.

Tony Abrahams
49 Posted 10/02/2024 at 15:17:04
"Unfortunately, when the Premier League started asking questions… the shit hit the fan."

Surely this exposes their incompetence then Brendan?

Kieran Kinsella
50 Posted 10/02/2024 at 15:38:54

To your point, this Carlo quote from May 2021 (in the middle of the financial period we've been sanctioned for):

"If they look at FFP with the problem they had with the top six for the Super League it would be funny. Very funny," he said.

Certainly indicates they were aware of the issue and thought they could get away with it. But, you could argue that kind of mindset is incompetence in itself.

Brendan McLaughlin
51 Posted 10/02/2024 at 16:48:47
Fair points Tony #49/Kieran #50

But arrogance more than incompetence for me.

Tony Abrahams
52 Posted 10/02/2024 at 17:28:34
I thought it was pure arrogance when the board threw the fans under the bus, because they didn't want to take any stick, once they had been totally exposed for not being anywhere near good enough.

My own view is that, when you mix nepotistic arrogance with pure incompetence, then it will eventually lead to a great deal of suffering, and how we are suffering now.

Jerome Shields
53 Posted 11/02/2024 at 20:27:02
Brendan #48,

I agree. But I would add that Kenwright was convinced of his good standing with the Premier League and had others believing.

Brendan McLaughlin
54 Posted 11/02/2024 at 20:42:05
Jerome #53,

Nothing to do with Blue Bill for me buddy.

To their credit, Everton squeezed every penny they could from the Covid allowances. What was it? Twice as much as any other club? Kenwright simply didn't have that level of detail or expertise.

For me, the credit for that and subseqent damming lies squarely at the feet of one Grant Ingles.

He thought he could steer us to fly just close enough to the sun. He overshot and by some distance.

Tony Abrahams
55 Posted 11/02/2024 at 21:44:28
It was the unqualified Barrett-Braxendale who was once quoted as saying she appointed Ingles as the finance director.

I think that it's obvious that everyone except Usmanov has been on the Everton gravy train when you look at our net spend over the last 5 years and then look at what percentage of everything Everton make goes out on wages.

It's Usmanov's fault for using Moshiri who didn't want Everton to take up too much of his time, and it's Usmanov's fault for buying the club off someone who would only sell the club to him if he was allowed to stay involved.

Usmanov had that much money that he was blind to the consequences, so whilst everyone else was making plenty, he was losing a fortune because he simply never did his homework on a club that was engulfed with second-rate nepotism.

Danny Baily
56 Posted 12/02/2024 at 08:23:49
Today could be the day…
Dave Lynch
57 Posted 12/02/2024 at 08:42:08
All this bollocks about Usmanov and Moshiri. They provided the cash and Billy Bullshit and his self-appointed cronies spunked the lot up the wall.

When it came out, he blamed the fans, even using a blag headlock story to alienate us. The man, don't forget, lied to us for years and put himself before the future of the club.

The blame lies squarely on his shoulders.

Paul Hewitt
58 Posted 12/02/2024 at 08:52:09
Danny @56.

I think they will drag this out as long as they can, making us sweat.

Danny Baily
59 Posted 12/02/2024 at 09:13:01
Paul 58,

I suspect the statement from Thelwell on Friday afternoon was the club getting out ahead of the story. There were enough quotable lines in that statement to allow lazy journos to piece together their articles when the appeal verdict is finally announced.

As I said on Friday, the content of that statement suggested to me that the club are expecting a largely negative outcome from the appeal. I hope I'm wrong about this.

Allen Rodgers
60 Posted 12/02/2024 at 09:27:37
Keith Wyness says it's going to be alright.

So expect the worst.

Ian Horan
61 Posted 12/02/2024 at 11:58:32
Dave Lynch, you and I have the same view, to Moshiris's only failing was trusting the Boys Pen's Bullshit Bill.

We had been funded to the rafters, Kenwright brought Rooney back – instead of the £90M for Lukaku, we got £75M plus Rooney for £15M. That to me shows a lack of future planning and played to both Kenwright's and Ronney's egos.

Danny Baily
62 Posted 12/02/2024 at 12:59:04
Bill Kenwright ran the club in a sustainable manner for years, including reining in spending for a year up to January 2012.

There are many mitigating factors, but Moshiri has been a disaster by comparison. Did Kenwright meddle? Almost certainly. Can we ascribe any significant portion of blame to him for our current financial woes? No.

John Keating
63 Posted 12/02/2024 at 13:16:16

I really am sorry and don't mean anything bad but if you believe Kenwright ran us in a sustainable manner, then you are seriously mistaken. The Kenwright - Moshiri double act has led us to where we are today.

When the World's Greatest Evertonian took over control, we were in the black. This fraudster milked every penny out the Club, from making the Club pay the money he took out to buy the Club to the millions he made selling it to Moshiri.

Moshiri has a lot to answer for, total incompetence, however Kenwright finished up making money Moshiri won't.

Not sure of your age, Danny, but Kenwright mortgaged us to the hilt through his “friends of Everton” in the Cayman Islands and the hundreds of lawnmowers at Finch Farm.

Moshiris's legacy will be the new stadium at Bramley-Moor Dock. Kenwright will be the root cause of our demise and decline.

Bob Parrington
64 Posted 16/02/2024 at 01:33:16
Have I missed something? Did we actually appeal or was the idea made up just to give the press and we ToffeeWebbers something to write about?

When are we expecting the result of the appeal?????

Eric Myles
65 Posted 16/02/2024 at 03:27:44
Robert #20,

"Unfortunately there are lots of examples in the commercial world of empty promises. That's why regulators require visible, accessible pools of capital available to prop things up if the worst happens."

In my experience, a Bond is a financial instrument that guarantees payment in case of broken promises.

It would be very easy to implement in the purchase of a football club and could even be introduced retrospectively.

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