Manchester United’s absentee-hit defence will be without Raphael Varane for the next few weeks due to a muscle injury.

A disappointing second season for the Red Devils under Erik ten Hag has been punctuated by a variety of fitness issues, with the backline hit particularly hard.

United have been without an out-and-out left-back for much of the season due to injuries to Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, while their problems at centre-back are now stacking up.

Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof are laid low, with Varane and Jonny Evans absent from the squad for Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool after injuries sustained at Chelsea last Thursday.

The pair will be absent again at Bournemouth on Saturday, with Varane unlikely to return until next month.

United said in a statement: “Raphael Varane will be out for the next few weeks with a muscle injury sustained during our game against Chelsea last week.

“The French World Cup winner is aiming to be back in action before the end of the season in May.

“Fellow centre-back Jonny Evans will also miss Saturday’s game against Bournemouth with a shorter-term muscle issue.”

Varane, 30, has made 30 appearances for United this season and is out of contract this summer.

Evans, who made a surprise return to the club last year, has appeared 29 times and the 36-year-old’s deal also expires at the end of the season.

United enter the weekend sixth in the Premier League, 11 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the last spot guaranteed of Champions League qualification.

Harry Maguire and teenager Willy Kambwala look set to start as the centre-back pairing again at Bournemouth.

Erik ten Hag deserves to be given more time by Manchester United, where off-pitch disruption has hampered the Dutchman's attempts to instil his preferred style.  

That is the view of former Netherlands international Urby Emanuelson, who worked with Ten Hag at Utrecht and believes he can achieve long-term success under the Jim Ratcliffe regime. 

Ten Hag is under pressure amid an underwhelming second campaign at Old Trafford, with United suffering an early Champions League exit and languishing 11 points adrift of the Premier League's top four.

United's total of 12 Premier League defeats this season is their joint-most in a single campaign (with 2013-14 and 2021-22), while Ten Hag's side have also been criticised for a perceived lack of off-the-ball organisation.

Only bottom club Sheffield United (560) have faced more shots than the Red Devils' 554 in the Premier League this season, while their expected goals against (xGA) figure of 58.2 is also the third-highest in the competition.

While Ten Hag recently said he has "no doubts" over his future, Gareth Southgate, Graham Potter and Gary O'Neil have been touted as possible successors if Ratcliffe – who recently acquired a minority stake in the club from the Glazer family – makes a change.

Emanuelson, though, thinks Ten Hag deserves more time.

"I worked with him at FC Utrecht in the last few seasons of my career, and I have to say he's an amazing coach in the way he can prepare a team. It's amazing," he told Stats Perform.

"I think he's doing well at Manchester United. It's difficult to be a coach of Manchester United, especially in the period they are in with that club.

"You know there are a lot of things going on in Manchester, so it's not easy not to be a coach there and I think he's doing well.

"Of course, you cannot win everything because the Premier League is a tough league, but he's trying to get his team ready. He's trying to let the club, or at least the team, grow to a different level than where they were at."

United are major outsiders in the race for Champions League qualification after being pegged back in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Liverpool last Sunday.

   With seven games to play, they sit 11 points adrift of Tottenham in fourth and Aston Villa in fifth, with England potentially receiving an additional spot through UEFA's coefficient rankings.

Emanuelson has not given up hope of the Red Devils making it, saying: "I just hope he finishes the season in a good way and they end up in the top four. I wish him all the best. 

"I have a good relationship with him, and I just hope he gets the time he needs to turn things around, and I hope he will get the results he wants."

Newcastle midfielder Joelinton has signed a new long-term deal with the club.

The Brazilian arrived on Tyneside from Hoffenheim in 2019 and has made 179 appearances for Newcastle, scoring 25 goals.

Joelinton was part of the Newcastle side who reached the Carabao Cup final last season and earned qualification for the Champions League for the first time in two decades.

He has not featured for the Magpies since their FA Cup victory against rivals Sunderland earlier this year in January due to injury and has subsequently undergone thigh surgery.

Speaking about his new contract, Joelinton told the club website: “I feel great. I feel very happy and my family is happy.

“A lot of things have happened in my years here. I’ve learnt a lot and grown a lot, and for me to come here to Newcastle was the best decision of my career.

“I love playing for the club. I love the club, I love the fans.

“We had a lot of discussions and I always wanted to be here. I’m glad to continue and I hope to have success in the years to come.”

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe said: “This has been a big priority for us off the pitch and I’m absolutely delighted Joelinton has committed his future to the club.

“Joey is an exceptional player and person, and the love he has for the club is reciprocated by all of us here. He brings unique qualities to the group and undoubtedly makes us stronger.”

Sporting Lisbon head coach Ruben Amorim has denied reaching a verbal agreement with Liverpool to succeed Jurgen Klopp as manager at Anfield.

Reports suggested the 39-year-old is in talks with the Premier League club with a view to taking over in the summer.

Amorim emphatically dismissed the speculation as he prepares for his side’s Primeira Liga match at Gil Vicente on Friday evening.

“This is the last time I am going to talk about my future,” he told a press conference.

“There was no interview and certainly no agreement.

“The only thing we all want here is to be champions with Sporting, nothing will change.

“I’m the Sporting coach and there was no interview or agreement with any club. I’m just focused, as always, on representing my club.”

Liverpool manager Klopp announced in January that he will leave Merseyside at the end of the season after almost nine years in the role.

Former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso was linked with the job before committing his future to Bayer Leverkusen, while Amorim and Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi also emerged as contenders.

Ex-Portugal midfielder Amorim is on course to lead Sporting to the second domestic title of his tenure after joining from divisional rivals Braga in 2020.

Sean Dyche has called on Everton to show the same positive reaction to their second points deduction of the season as the first.

Having seen November’s 10-point penalty for breaching spending rules reduced to six on appeal, the Toffees were penalised a further two points this week, dropping them back to within two points of the Premier League relegation zone.

Everton’s best spell of the season came shortly after the initial sanction, with the Toffees’ four-match winning run including a 2-0 success against Monday’s opponents Chelsea.

Manager Dyche said: “The last time we got a knock everyone pulled together, and I think that’s important to remind yourself. The fans were terrific in a new reality. There’s another one now.

“Everyone went, ‘hang on a minute, the badge is more important than anything’, and I still feel the same. Myself, the players, the staff all pulling together, and the fans as well to make sure we look after ourselves and we look after the club.

“The restart is Chelsea. A reaction to the news is important, a positive reaction. The time for fault and blame is gone. It’s the way society works, everyone wants fault and blame for everything but we’ve got to park it.

“What’s done is done. We’ve just got to stay in line, stay connected, and take on the next challenge. The club’s had a few knocks recently, let’s all pull together and get it done.”

Everton will appeal against the latest sanction and, while Dyche does not want to dwell on what has happened, a sense of injustice remains.

A perceived lack of consistency has frustrated club and fans alike, and Dyche said: “I think it’s difficult because of the confusion.

“I don’t think it’s just Evertonians. I travel a lot and football fans generally come up to me and say, ‘What’s that all about?’ They’re confused by it, we’re a bit confused by it, I think that’s fair to say.

“But, whether we are or we’re not, there’s still a job in hand and the focus has to go back to the current situation.

“Therefore our focus is on the next round of games coming up. I spoke to the players after it, reminded the staff about it, the truth of the moment, which is to stay focused on the job in hand.”

Ongoing doubt, meanwhile, surrounds the club’s proposed takeover by 777 Partners, with a further delay reported this week.

Dyche sees no reason to panic, saying: “I’m certainly not in that world but I can only imagine buying a football club’s not an easy business. There must be so many different things to go through and so many checks that have to be done.

“It’s taking more time, that’s the way it goes. I certainly am not involved in that level of what we do here. The rest is just a wait-and-see situation.”

The points deduction made last weekend’s win over Burnley, their first in the league since December, look even more important, with goal-shy Dominic Calvert-Lewin netting his second in as many games.

There is a fitness doubt over the striker for Monday’s game after he missed training on Thursday with a hamstring issue.

But Dyche expects him to be fit, saying: “He’s just got a minor niggly hamstring, which we’re just being ultra careful with. But he thinks he’s on top of it and the medical team are as well.”

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany has been handed a two-match touchline suspension after his red card against Chelsea at the back end of last month.

Kompany was sent off from the dugout during the Clarets’ 2-2 draw at Chelsea on March 30 for his protests against a penalty decision which also led to defender Lorenz Assignon seeing red.

The Football Association confirmed in a statement Kompany must serve a one-game ban straight away with the other suspended until the end of the year, while the Belgian was also handed a £10,000 fine.

“Burnley FC’s Vincent Kompany has been fined £10,000 and suspended from the touchline for two matches following misconduct at their Premier League game against Chelsea FC on Saturday 30 March,” the FA statement said.

“One match is to be served immediately and one match suspended until 31 December 2024. The manager admitted that his language and/or behaviour in the 40th minute of the fixture was improper and/or abusive and/or insulting towards a match official and/or questioned the integrity of a match official.

“An independent regulatory commission imposed his sanctions following a subsequent hearing.”

Relegation-threatened Burnley, who sit second bottom in the Premier League and six points adrift of safety, welcome Brighton to Turf Moor on Saturday, when Kompany will be in the stands.

Kompany, who had 11 seasons as a player for Manchester City, revealed he spoke to referee Darren England after his dismissal at Stamford Bridge to apologise for his choice of words at the time.

But Kompany insisted last week that the standards of refereeing in the top-flight have dropped in this campaign.

“I’m not shying away from it and I’ve said it to the referees themselves, the officials, refereeing hasn’t been good enough this season,” he said.

“I think the addition of VAR and more opinions and more officials doesn’t make it easy for them to do their jobs.

“You make a mistake and we all have a laugh about it and usually the traditional view is that it all evens itself out over the course of a season.

“This year, I haven’t felt like this. Where we are in the league doesn’t really matter for me, it’s not in that conversation.”

Meanwhile Wolves boss Gary O’Neil is facing an FA charge over his behaviour after the match against West Ham on Saturday.

An FA statement said O’Neil’s ‘language and/or behaviour in and around the match officials’ changing rooms was improper and/or threatening.” He has until Monday (April 15) to respond to the charge.

What the papers say

Newcastle United have put two defenders on their radar in Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly and Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo, according to the i. Both players will be free agents in the summer.

Chelsea have identified Napoli striker Victor Osimhen as their top target this summer but will have to make room for the Nigerian to join the club, Football Insider says. Osimhen has scored 12 goals in 19 games and had three assists for Napoli in the Serie A this year.

The i reports that Lille manager Paulo Fonesca is at the top of the pile if the club decides to part ways with manager David Moyes. West Ham are sitting in seventh in the Premier League table with 13 wins, nine draws and 10 losses, just one point behind Manchester United.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Crysencio Summerville: Leeds United’s 22-year-old winger will be in high demand in the summer transfer period with Liverpool, Tottenham and now Bayer Leverkusen interested in his services, according to Teamtalk.

Georgiy Sudakov: Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City are interested in the Shaktar Donetsk midfielder with the club considering selling the 21-year-old, HITC says.

Phil Foden admits his confidence is soaring after delivering for Manchester City yet again.

The England international claimed his 22nd goal of the campaign with a stunning strike from outside the area in City’s thrilling 3-3 draw at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old, who scored a hat-trick against Aston Villa earlier this month, appears to be City’s most in-form player heading into the closing stages of a season they hope will yield another three trophies.

“I seem to be in good scoring form this year,” said academy graduate Foden. “When you’re scoring, your confidence is really high.


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“I put it down to my determination and wanting to score goals. I always believe – no matter what – I’m going to get a chance in the game and hopefully I can put them away.”

Foden’s brilliant long-range effort at the Bernabeu pulled City back level at 2-2 after they had surrendered the lead.

“It’s one of the best goals I’ve scored,” he said. “I always have this special ability in and around the box where I see myself scoring a lot of goals – it’s one of those you practice on the training ground after training.

“When I received it on the edge of the box, I thought why not try it. Thankfully I got a chance in the game to do that. I made good contact with it and when it went in the top corner, I was delighted.

“It’s one of the best feelings – to score in one of the best stadiums in the world, I can say I’ve ticked it off the bucket list now.”

Foden’s goal was followed up by an equally impressive strike from Josko Gvardiol but Real hit back to level again and ensure the second leg of the quarter-final next week will begin evenly poised.

“We stayed calm when we went behind and we just played our football, we grew into the game,” Foden said.

“I feel we’ve come a long way to come here and do what we did. We could have controlled it better when we went 3-2 up but we’re playing one of the best teams in the world.

“Overall, it’s not a bad result for us. To come here and score three goals, we’ll take it back to the Etihad.”

Leandro Trossard believes a “top level” performance is required to topple Bayern Munich after salvaging Arsenal a 2-2 draw from a captivating Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Gunners substitute Trossard levelled with 14 minutes remaining on Tuesday evening to leave the tie perfectly poised ahead of next week’s return match at Allianz Arena.

Former Arsenal forward Serge Gnabry and ex-Tottenham striker Harry Kane had turned the contest in Bayern’s favour following Bukayo Saka’s early opener.

“They have showed how they can hurt us so we need to work on that for next week,” Trossard told his club’s website.

“If we are at our top level, we can beat them. Hopefully we can finish it there.

“The confidence is really high. We’re playing so well the last weeks, months and it’s just nice that we had the equaliser.

“It was a perfect goal for us and it was a great feeling.

“It’s so important to go to Munich and have that result, so it’s all to play for.”

Ben White wasted a golden chance to double Arsenal’s lead after Saka’s 12th-minute strike sparked wild scenes at Emirates Stadium.

A defensive lapse allowed Gnabry to equalise before England captain Kane converted from the penalty spot when Leroy Sane’s mazy run was halted by the dangled leg of William Saliba.

The Premier League leaders were later given a let off when Swedish referee Glenn Nyberg opted not penalise a bizarre handball by Gunners defender Gabriel inside his own 18-yard box.

Trossard capitalised on the fortune by clinically finished his 13th goal of the season following fine work from fellow replacement Gabriel Jesus before Arsenal were denied a last-gasp penalty when Bukayo Saka went down under a challenge from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Mikel Arteta’s men were left with contrasting emotions at the end of a breathless affair.

“It’s a mixed feeling, I would say,” said the 29-year-old Belgium forward.

“We started so well the first half – the first 15, 20 minutes we could have been up by three goals – and then you can see their quality, especially up front they have individual quality.

“They are so strong on the counter attack and that’s where they hurt us. At the end, we’re happy with the equaliser and we have to do it there. It will be a tough game.”

Leeds and Northern Ireland midfielder Stuart Dallas has announced his retirement from professional football.

The 32-year-old has been sidelined since April 2022 after suffering a femoral fracture against Manchester City in the Premier League and in a statement confirming his retirement, Dallas revealed his knee has sustained “irreparable damage”.

“Today, with a heavy heart, I announce that I will be retiring from professional football,” the statement read.

“Over the past two years the Leeds medical team, along with the incredible surgeons in London, have worked tirelessly to help me recover from the injury I sustained in the game against Manchester City in 2022.

“Sadly, despite their best efforts, and my body not progressing how we need it to, I must now accept the fact that my knee suffered irreparable damage and I will not be returning to play professional football.

“I am, of course, devastated by this news.”

Dallas began his career in Northern Ireland with Coagh United and Crusaders before moving to Brentford in 2012, where he helped the Bees secure promotion to the Championship.

The midfielder then moved to Leeds in August 2015 for a fee of £1.3million and went on to make 266 appearances for the Yorkshire club, scoring 28 goals.

He was an important part of the Leeds side that earned promotion to the Premier League in 2019-20 and Dallas played every top-flight fixture for the club the following season.

Dallas represented Northern Ireland 62 times, scoring three goals, and was part of the squad which reached the round of 16 at Euro 2016 in France.

In his statement, Dallas paid “special thanks” to former Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa and Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with some outstanding managers, but two in particular I want to pay special thanks to are Marcelo Bielsa and Michael O’Neill,” he added.

“Marcelo’s incredible coaching helped me improve not just as a player but as a person off the pitch, too.

“Premier League football seemed a million miles away at times, but he made this all possible. These were simply the greatest years of my career and I created memories that I’ll cherish forever.

“Michael believed in me and gave me the opportunity to represent my country on so many occasions, for which I will always be thankful.”

Leeds confirmed they are in discussions with Dallas about a “future role” and he will be presented at half-time of their Sky Bet Championship fixture against Blackburn at Elland Road on Saturday.

What the papers say

European giants Paris St Germain and Barcelona are interested in Liverpool winger Luis Diaz, who is worth around £75million, the Telegraph reports. The 27-year-old will still have three years on his contract at Anfield at the end of the season. Diaz has scored eight goals and had four assists in the Premier League this season.

Tottenham are joining Chelsea in the race for Athletic Bilbao forward Nico Williams, the Telegraph says. The 21-year-old, who has scored three goals to go with his eight assists in LaLiga, has a £42.8million release clause in his contract.

Manchester United have not yet agreed to a compensation deal for Dan Ashworth, who has agreed to move from Newcastle as sporting director, and the Guardian says it may take months before he can join the club.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Pedro Neto: Manchester City have been linked with the 24-year-old Wolves winger but the club will have to fight off suitors from the Saudi Pro League, according to TeamTalk.

Danilho Doekhi: Crystal Palace and Fulham have identified the 25-year-old Union Berlin defender as an option to bolster their defence, Football Insider reports.

Everton fans have hit out at the Premier League over what they see as “inconsistency” in the sanctions issued for breaches of the league’s financial rules.

The club were docked two points by an independent commission on Monday for an overspend under the league’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) in the period ending with the 2022-23 season.

Everton will appeal against the sanction, having already had a 10-point penalty imposed last November for a PSR breach covering the period up to the 2021-22 season cut to six on appeal.

Nottingham Forest were given a four-point sanction for breaching PSR last month which is also the subject of an appeal.

A statement from the Everton Fan Advisory Board (FAB) highlighted the four different outcomes from the commission hearings to date, arguing that they leave supporters “with more questions than answers”.

“The only consistency throughout has been the inconsistency,” the statement added.

“From the outset, it has been made clear that Everton Football Club has a case to answer, however the only certainty we have is the PL’s failure to provide transparent, fair and effective regulation of its own rules.”

The Premier League does not have a sanctioning framework for PSR breaches. Clubs – understood to include Everton – opted against bringing one in when the matter was discussed at a meeting in 2020.

Top-flight clubs are now working on new financial rules to ultimately replace PSR, which could be approved as early as the league’s annual general meeting in June.

The FAB statement also criticised the league over what it perceived as “inaction” over the proposed takeover of the club by American investment firm 777 Partners.

That, combined with the perceived inconsistency on sanctioning, meant the league had “brought a palpable level of sporting interference to Everton’s doorstep”, the FAB said.

The FAB also criticised the commission’s ruling that the FAB and its impact statement had no standing in the case.

“The PL Independent Commission’s decision to refuse to consider the views and impact on supporters could not be further from the Premier League’s rhetoric about the importance and value of fan input,” the FAB statement continued.

“It raises real concern that the PL continues to erode the trust and good faith of football’s biggest asset – supporters.”

The commission said in its written reasons that it would not be appropriate to give standing to the impact statement, adding: “As a matter of principle, it would be wrong for the views of Everton FAB to impact the appropriate sanction, particularly in circumstances where the supporters of other clubs would undoubtedly have other views they would ask us to consider.”

The FAB statement again called for football’s independent regulator, which is set for its second reading in Parliament after the Easter recess, to have the requisite power to oversee such matters.

However, the Government has repeatedly stressed it will continue to be the responsibility of the Premier League to set the rules for its competition even after the regulator passes into law.

Under the PSR standard directions, Everton’s appeal hearing must conclude no later than May 24 – which would be after the last round of fixtures on May 19. 

The outcome of the appeal against the two-point deduction must be announced before the June 1 ‘backstop date’, meaning the league table could be further updated some time after the last ball has been kicked.

The commission which imposed the two-point penalty on Monday will also have to rule on a dispute between the club and the league over the status of certain costs which the club say are associated with the building of their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, though this element sits outside the standard directions and does not therefore need to be resolved before June 1.

The Premier League has been approached for comment.

What the papers say

West Ham will join Liverpool, Tottenham and AC Milan in the hunt for 26 -year-old Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo, according to the Guardian. The former Manchester City player will be a free agent in summer, but Fulham are hoping to retain his services.

Football Insider says Chelsea are trying to secure the signature of Athletic Bilbao forward Nico Williams for £43million. The 21-year-old Spain international has scored six goals and had 14 assists for Athletic in all competitions this season.

Former Arsenal loanee Dani Ceballos is set to leave Real Madrid for rivals Atletico Madrid as he struggles for game time at the LaLiga leaders, the Sun reports. The 27-year-old Spain midfielder has played just 14 games for the Real Madrid in the league this season, mostly as a substitute.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Mohamed Salah: The 31-year-old Liverpool striker is set to be targeted once again by Saudi Pro League clubs this summer with Al Ittihad reportedly set to offer £70million for the Egypt star, Talksport says.

Lucas Paqueta: French media outlet L’Equipe says Manchester City have agreed to terms with the 26-year-old West Ham midfielder.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is braced for Bayern Munich setting aside their Bundesliga struggles to produce their best possible performance in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The six-time European champions have endured a disappointing domestic campaign and travel to Emirates Stadium for Tuesday’s first leg on the cusp of relinquishing the German title for the first time in 12 years.

Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel is poised to depart his role at the end of the season, with his team currently 16 points adrift of leaders Bayer Leverkusen following four defeats in their last eight league outings.

Asked if the opposition’s poor form was relevant to the European tie, Arteta replied: “From my side, no.

“It’s something we have no say in, no control of. We just expect all the time the best from your opponent.

“Against Bayern, against any opponent, regardless of where they are you always have to expect that they play in their best possible way and be prepared to out perform them.

“Football is such a competitive environment and difficult to be consistent that this can happen to anybody.

“They are a top team. I am a big admirer of Thomas: his teams, the way they set up, the way they play, what they transmit.

“We have to take our game where we want it and if we do that we’ll have a chance to win.”

German champions-elect Leverkusen – managed by Xabi Alonso – thumped Bayern 3-0 in February en route to building their runaway lead.

Spaniard Arteta was coy on whether he had approached compatriot Alonso for advice on how to defeat the Bavarian club.

“Great question but I’m not going to answer that,” he replied with a smile.

Arteta is relishing the pivotal final weeks of the season, with his Premier League leaders chasing a domestic and European double.

The Gunners have not played at this stage of the Champions League since the 2009-10 season and were hammered 5-1 on each of their previous three meetings with Bayern, in 2015 and both legs of a 2017 last-16 tie.

Arteta, who was a non-playing member of Arsene Wenger’s squad for the first of those thrashings, has little interest in dwelling on the past as he strives for silverware.

“It’s irrelevant, we just focus on the performance that we have to put in to beat a top and exceptional team with exceptional individuals,” he said.

“We have to earn every right to try to make it happen.

“We haven’t been in this position for 14 years. For this club it’s a long, long time and we realise that and that’s why we have this hunger and desire to make it happen.

“This is where we want to be. We are in a really good position in the Premier League and we’re in a really good position in the Champions League.

“We have a big task ahead of us against one of the most successful clubs in Europe. That’s the hurdle we have to overcome and we’re looking forward to it.”

Everton are planning to appeal against their two-point deduction for a second breach of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules, but face yet another hearing and the prospect of further punishment.

The Toffees, who were docked six points earlier this season for breaking PSR rules in the assessment period up to the 2021-22 season, have been handed another penalty for the three-year cycle to 2022-23 after admitting a breach of £16.6million.

The punishment drops them one place to 16th in the Premier League table, two points above the relegation zone.

The independent commission was unable to decide on whether there was a further breach relating to costs of £6.5m. That case will be heard at an unspecified date, and the PA news agency understands any resulting penalty is likely to be applied next season.

The Premier League said in a statement: “An independent commission has given an immediate two-point deduction to Everton FC for a breach of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSRs) for the period ending season 2022/23.

“Over a three-day hearing last month, the independent commission heard evidence and arguments from the club in respect of a range of potential mitigating factors for its admitted breach of £16.6million, including the impact of its two successive PSR charges.

“Having done so, the commission determined the appropriate sanction to be a two-point deduction, taking effect immediately.

“The independent commission reaffirmed the principle that any breach of the PSRs is significant and justifies, indeed requires, a sporting sanction.”

The independent commission’s written reasons said there was an issue relating to the capitalisation of £6.5m and further interest which is yet to be settled.

“We accept that this defers the resolution of part of this dispute,” the independent commission said.

“The Commission is acutely aware that there are many stakeholders – to name some: the PL, Everton, the Everton fans, all other Premier League clubs, the public – interested in the speedy determination of these disciplinary proceedings.

“Nevertheless, in fairness to the parties in these proceedings, the Commission decided that the issues which remain cannot be dealt with in accordance with the timetable set out in the standard directions.”

With regard to the penalty that has been applied, the written reasons show the Premier League felt five points was the appropriate starting place for a sanction, comprised of three for the PSR breach and two for exceeding the upper loss threshold by 15.8 per cent – £16.6m.

But the independent commission knocked off two points as Everton had already been punished this season “for losses in years which overlap with the years at issue in these proceedings”.

A further point was reduced to a combination of the loss of sponsorship of Russian company USM and the fact the club admitted guilt at the first opportunity.

Despite that, Everton plan to appeal against the two-point punishment.

The Toffees said in a statement: “While the club’s position has been that no further sanction was appropriate, the club is pleased to see that the commission has given credit to the majority of the issues raised by the club, including the concept of double punishment, the significant mitigating circumstances facing the club due to the war in Ukraine, and the high level of co-operation and early admission of the club’s breach.

“Everton remains committed to working collaboratively with the league on all matters relating to PSR but is extremely concerned by the inconsistency of different commissions in respect of points deductions applied.

“The club would like to place on record its thanks to the Fan Advisory Board and other fan groups for their submissions during this process, and to all Evertonians for their ongoing patience and unstinting support.

“The club and its legal representatives have begun the preparations to appeal the commission’s decision.”

Everton found out in February that their appeal against the punishment dished out in November for their first PSR breach had been reduced from 10 points to six.

The appeal board rejected seven grounds for mitigation put forward by the club, but did find the original commission made legal errors.

Last month fellow Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest were punished for their own PSR breach, leading them to be docked four points.

The Premier League said Forest admitted breaching those rules by £34.5m above their permitted threshold of £61m.

Forest are awaiting the results of their appeal.

Last month also saw Leicester referred to an independent commission by the Premier League for an alleged breach of PSR for the period ending 2022-23.

The Championship leaders went on to announce they had launched “urgent legal proceedings” against the Premier League and the EFL.

The Premier League has yet to issue an update on the 115 charges laid against Manchester City in February 2023 for alleged breaches of financial rules.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told MPs in January that a date had been set and the case was “progressing”.

Everton have seven Premier League matches remaining this season and travel to Chelsea next Monday.

The club remains in the midst of a protracted takeover, with owner Farhad Moshiri recently saying the sale was in “the home straight” after first agreeing a deal with prospective owners 777 Partners last September.

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