Everton lodge appeal and hint at tension over commission’s independence

<span>Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Everton have formally appealed against the decision to deduct the club 10 points for a breach of Premier League profit and sustainability rules, with the outcome expected in the new year.

Everton admitted a breach of financial rules during October’s hearing by an independent commission but are challenging a punishment that they consider disproportionate and unjust. It is the biggest sporting sanction in Premier League history.

A statement from the club said: “Everton Football Club has today lodged with the chair of the Premier League’s judicial panel its appeal of the decision by a Premier League commission to impose a 10-point deduction on the club. An appeal board will now be appointed to hear the case.”

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Everton’s description of a “Premier League commission” differs from the league’s statement on the appeal and suggests tensions between the two over their interpretation of the commission’s independence. The Premier League said Everton had “appealed the decision of an independent commission to impose a 10-point deduction on the club, after its admission of a breach of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules”.

The chair of the Premier League’s judicial panel, Murray Rosen KC, appointed the three-person commission that heard Everton’s case. Rosen will also select the board that hears Everton’s appeal from a 12-strong judicial panel created by the Premier League, which brought the case. The three members of the judicial panel who imposed the 10-point penalty on Everton – David Phillips KC, Alan Greenwood and Nick Igoe – cannot be selected for the appeal board.

Everton’s fan advisory board (FAB) has written to the chair of the Premier League, Alison Brittain, asking for supporters’ views to be considered in the appeal process. The FAB has also criticised the league for not considering the impact of a points deduction on supporters and accused it of breaking commitments made when launching the “fan engagement standard” in March. The Premier League is understood to have received the letter but not yet to have responded.

The letter, sent by the FAB’s chair, Dave Kelly, reads: “The Premier League rightly stated that ‘it is vital we ensure the voices of supporters are not only heard in the stands, but also when it comes to having a say on key issues relating to their clubs’. It is in this context that we would like to express our significant concerns that at no point during the process which led to (what is, in our opinion) the disproportionate penalty imposed on Everton Football Club or, in considering and making recommendations about the potential sanctions that should be applied to the breach, has the Premier League considered or taken into account the views of supporters.”

Kelly adds: “One of the guiding principles of the Fan Led Review is to ensure that regulatory sanctions should avoid impacting fans, wherever possible. It [the 10-point penalty] directly impacts supporters, who have had no influence on the running of the club and have made clear their concerns about its leadership, direction and operations. Such a severe penalty also potentially places at risk the significant benefits to the community that the new stadium development will bring in regenerating North Liverpool and providing a boost to job creation and the local economy.”