EPL

Andy Burnham accuses Premier League of ‘abuse of process’ over Everton sanction

By Sports Desk November 26, 2023

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has accused the Premier League of an “abuse of process” over the 10-point penalty handed to Everton last week, and called on the organisation to declare the sanction null and void.

Burnham, who is an Everton season-ticket-holder, spoke out on the day Toffees fans protested en masse prior to Sunday’s defeat to Manchester United at Goodison Park.

In an open letter to the Premier League, which he described as a “formal complaint”, Burnham argued that its failure to have a sanctions policy in place prior to commencing the process, and subsequent introduction of one once the process was under way, amounted to an “abuse of process”.

“It could be argued that the Premier League handing a new penalty regime to the Commission in this way is akin to the Government handing new sentencing guidelines to a judge in the middle of a particular trial,” Burnham wrote.

“Any right-minded person would see that as an inappropriate attempt to influence due process. From my experience of regulation, introducing new rules in the late stages of a process would be regarded as regulatory malpractice.”

Everton, who exceeded losses permitted by £19.5million in the three seasons ending in 2021-22, are expected to appeal against the punishment.

Burnham acknowledged that the club have a case to answer, but added: “The only fair course of action that I can see from this point is for the panel’s ruling to be declared null and void.

“I cannot see how any appeal process would result in anything other than a similarly arbitrary judgement as that made by the Commission and, for that reason, I do not believe that an appeal will resolve this matter.”

The PA news agency understands that the Premier League contests most of the allegations made against it by Burnham, believing he has a fundamental misunderstanding of the processes involved.

A large group of supporters gathered outside The Brick pub close to Goodison Park before kick-off and embarked on a protest march via County Road and Spellow Lane to the ground.

A huge banner draped across the front of The Brick read: ‘Where there is power, greed and money… There is corruption.’

Similar banners were unfurled inside the stadium and most fans waved pink cards showing the Premier League logo and the word ‘Corrupt’ that had been handed out by fans’ group The1878s prior to kick-off.

Fans also booed as the official Premier League matchday stand was erected on halfway.

Ten minutes into the game most fans in the stadium stood up holding their cards, while others chanted: “Premier League, corrupt as f***.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche has expressed his shock at the league’s “disproportionate” penalty and on Friday fans gathered outside the Premier League’s offices in Paddington, west London, in protest.

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    An independent appeal board set aside the 10-point sanction originally imposed by a commission in November for breaching league profitability and sustainability rules (PSR), with the new reduced penalty lifting the Toffees’ points tally from 21 to 25.

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    The reduced six-point penalty for Everton relates to breaching PSR in the assessment period up to the 2021-22 season. The appeal board rejected seven grounds for mitigation put forward by Everton but did find the original commission made legal errors.

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    The reduction in penalty means Luton are now four points from safety in the Premier League, but their manager Rob Edwards accepted the issue was out of the Hatters’ hands.

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    Everton released a statement following the publication of the revised sanction.

    “While the club is still digesting the appeal board’s decision, we are satisfied our appeal has resulted in a reduction in the points sanction,” the statement read.

    “We understand the appeal board considered the 10-point deduction originally imposed to be inappropriate when assessed against the available benchmarks of which the club made the commission aware, including the position under the relevant EFL regulations, and the nine-point deduction that is imposed under the Premier League’s own rules in the event of insolvency.

    “The club is also particularly pleased with the appeal board’s decision to overturn the original commission’s finding that the club failed to act in utmost good faith.

    “That decision, along with reducing the points deduction, was an incredibly important point of principle for the club on appeal. The club, therefore, feels vindicated in pursuing its appeal.”

    The club said they remain fully committed to co-operating with the Premier League in respect of the second complaint, which relates to a PSR breach in the assessment period up to the end of the 2022-23 season.

    If clubs breach PSRs in consecutive seasons, they can provide evidence and make submissions to the independent commission hearing their case that any crossover should be treated as a mitigating factor.

    Labour MP Ian Byrne, who tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons in response to the initial 10-point deduction, wrote on X: “I was proud to be able to take the fight against Everton’s disproportionate & unfair penalty to Parliament and am pleased to see their points deduction reduced today.”

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