A familiar scene unfolded at Goodison Park on Sunday when the Premier League anthem rang out before Everton faced Aston Villa.
The famous old stadium echoed to a storm of jeering while pink cards bearing the message that the Premier League was “corrupt” were held aloft by Everton supporters.
This is all the result of Everton’s fury and frustration at being docked 10 points after being referred to an independent commission by the Premier League for a breach of profit and sustainability regulations earlier this season.
And the mood of resentment will grow even further with Monday’s announcement that Everton have been referred once more by the Premier League for another alleged breach of financial regulations covering seasons 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23.
Nottingham Forest have also been charged with a similar breach.
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Everton are currently in the process of appealing against the first sanction and, in an echo of that charge, made it immediately clear they will be defending their position robustly once more – but this is another unwanted distraction and a feeling of deja vu for manager Sean Dyche.
The club’s hope is they will get the 10-point punishment, at the very least, reduced – but the latest turn of events is another twist in a season that has almost been trauma on a loop.
The club is fully focused on that appeal, with the expectation there will be a resolution by the end of February. The commission looking at the latest charge cannot meet until the first appeal has been concluded because the result could influence the outcome of the new commission.
One of Everton’s arguments is that overspend they are accused of is the result of loan repayment costs incurred as a result of building their new stadium on the banks of the River Mersey at Bramley Moore Dock.
In other words, Everton believe they are also being punished for building a new stadium.
However, many fans feel there has been mismanagement on a grand scale at Goodison Park under the reign of owner Farhad Moshiri and Everton’s previous board, with more than half a billion pounds spent on pushing the club to the edge of the footballing and financial precipice.
Everton survived relegation in last season’s final game with home victory over Bournemouth, while it took a 3-2 win against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in the penultimate game of the previous campaign to ensure safety.
Ironically, the punishment imposed earlier this season united a club that had been broken in previous months, the fans’ relationship with the hierarchy fractured to such an extent that Everton’s board of directors’ felt unable to attend matches at Goodison Park on safety advice from January 2023.
The sense of injustice, warranted or not, and the belief the punishment is excessive and heavy-handed has acted as a unifying force.
Since then, owner Moshiri has put a takeover deal in place – still awaiting approval – with United States investment firm 777 Partners, while former chairman Bill Kenwright died in October aged 78.
Manager Dyche has often stated his job is to ignore “the noise” around off-the-field events and simply get results on the pitch. It is a task made harder by Monday’s developments.
Everton are currently one point outside the relegation places, one point ahead of Luton Town having played a game more, so cannot afford any further points sanctions.
Dyche’s team, in effect, wiped out that 10-point deduction with four straight Premier League wins but an indifferent run has made their position perilous once more.
Everton will hope they can defend their position successfully at both the initial appeal and any subsequent commission – but there is no doubt the coming months will shape the very future of the club.
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