Ruud Gullit said he would be intrigued to see what fate awaited other Premier League clubs, after Everton were slapped with a 10-point penalty for breaching the competition’s profit and sustainability rules.
News of the punishment was greeted with fury at Goodison Park, with the club criticising the “harshness and severity of the sanction”. Everton said it would “monitor with great interest the decisions made in any other cases concerning the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules”.
Manchester City, champions in five of the past six seasons, were charged with 115 breaches of Premier League regulations in February. Their case has been referred to the same independent commission that ruled so stringently against Everton.
Chelsea, a team Gullit played for and later managed, could also find themselves in the dock, after leaked documents reportedly indicated multiple payments not permitted under Financial Fair Play [FFP] regulations were made under the former ownership of Roman Abramovich.
Everton were hit with a single charge, after recording losses of £124.5m (HK$1,209,984) in the three years to 2021-22. Clubs are allowed to lose only £105m in a three-year period. Manager Sean Dyche’s team have dropped to 19th as a result of the deduction, two points from safety and above bottom-placed Burnley only on goal difference.
In Hong Kong as part of the Laureus Sport for Good programme, which saw him visit Tuen Mun and local charity InspiringHK, Gullit told the Post he hoped the governing bodies “know what they are doing”.
“This type of punishment can have a huge, long-lasting impact on a club,” he said. “I feel really sorry for the Everton fans, they are the ones who will feel this the most.
“I am looking forward to seeing the overall outcome in England, in terms of what happens with other cases, then we can judge this decision more clearly.”
A lawyer who formerly provided financial advice to Manchester City warned the Premier League had set a precedent that could conceivably lead to the current European champions being relegated. Stefan Borson was anticipating trouble for Chelsea, too.
“Without seeing the judgment/award -10 points for Everton feels harsh for a straightforward FFP breach to me,” Borson wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
“But it reinforces that sanctions against City [if proven] and now Chelsea [if charged and admitted on the off-books payments] will be potentially relegation inducing.”
Gullit, a former Ballon d’Or winner and two-times European champion with AC Milan, added: “A lot of other cubs are under the spotlight, and everybody tries [to push financial boundaries].
“People think, ‘Why only Everton?’ They have come for a club that is not so high-profile, right now.
“That is what the Everton people say, ‘Why come to us, what about all these teams in the newspapers all the time?’ And I get that.”
There is a school of thought among Everton supporters, and some prominent voices in the game, that the Premier League have plucked low-hanging fruit, in an attempt to demonstrate its ability to oversee football governance, and limit the influence of the Independent Regulator For Football [IRFF], announced by prime minister Rishi Sunak this month.
Everton survived in the Premier League by only two points last season, and they had only a four-point buffer to the bottom three 12 months earlier.
They have markedly improved over the past two months, claiming 13 points from seven matches, but have been plunged back into danger ahead of the club’s move to a new 52,888-capacity stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock next season.
And Everton’s woes deepened after it was reported a trio of clubs that suffered relegation over the past two seasons would sue the nine-times English champions.
Leeds United, Leicester City, and Burnley are apparently pursuing claims worth a combined £300m [HK$2,915,716].
Everton have pledged to appeal and must lodge their case within seven days of Friday’s verdict.
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