If I could remove my red-tinted glasses that skew my view of everything Everton and always push me to chuckle at their expense, last week’s 10-point deduction penalizing the club for financial cock-ups for the years 2019-2022 was conveniently timed. It was pretty convenient for everyone, despite Everton supporters watching their team plummet from comfortably mid-table to 19th without actually playing a game.
The Premier League managed to look like it doesn’t need an independent regulator forced onto it by the British government, and Everton were in the wrong place at the wrong time. While they will certainly create a defiant jet engine of a roar when the Toffees play Manchester United on Sunday, they were lucky to get this punishment now rather than last March or April. Had it been later, Everton would be playing Championship football right now.
The penalty won’t do much to Everton in the long run. Yes, they’re in the relegation zone now, but it’s highly unlikely that they will be after Sunday. While they were never going to challenge for European places this season, they can still finish above the relegation zone, which was probably their ambition for this season.
From a Premier League perspective, the penalty makes it look like they’re taking the league’s FFP rules seriously, without really harming a club long-term. The Premier League wants to avoid being regulated by the British government and is doing everything to stop it, including looking strong and capable of managing their own house.
But despite all the sleight of hand going on here, it’s hard not to feel a bit for Everton. They admitted to breaking the rules, but not with malicious intent. They were just stupid, cycling through managers and players while trying to build a new stadium and manage through a pandemic.
There are appeals to be heard, and Everton has wasted no time in pointing at Manchester City and Chelsea and calling for action against them. But these are different kinds of cases, and Everton doesn’t draw as much weight for the Premier League as City, for example.
The penalty is a perfect storm for Everton, who dug their own hole just as the Premier League was looking to show off its discipline powers on someone they could get away with doing so to with minimum fuss. It was the perfect storm.