Yesterday Everton were hit with a 10-point deduction, taking them from relative safety to 19th place, 2 points from safety.
Given their form—and more importantly the form of the absolutely dreadful newly promoted sides—it seems likely that Everton will overcome the point deduction to remain in the Premier League, though other financial consequences remain possible.
Although a few sides relegated over the last couple seasons are understandably wanting to be compensated, the length and breadth of Everton’s financial fuckery are a mere drop in the ocean compared to the decades’ long bending and breaking of financial fair play rules by Manchester City and Chelsea.
Chelsea are, in many ways, the OG of financial doping. Indeed, the spending in the early years of the Abramovich era was the catalysis for FFP rules to be implemented in the first place. And it was Chelsea’s model of outspending the competition, fueled by state sponsorship, that City used to become the current powerhouse that they are today.
Whereas Everton’s breach of FFP rules directly affected a few clubs in and around the relegation zone over a couple of seasons, City and Chelsea have done incalculable damage throughout the football pyramid.
And when I say incalculable, I’m not being hyperbolic. Were we to rewind the clock to 2003 for Chelsea and 2008 for City, it would be impossible to calculate the long-term consequences and knock-on effects for every team that was relegated, or otherwise knocked out of a cup competition, both within England and across Europe.
If FFP rules were established for the long-term financial sustainability of the sport, Chelsea and City have been major culprits of creating an environment of greater financial instability. Not for themselves, obviously their Oil Daddies have made sure of that, but for clubs up and down the English football pyramid.
Indeed, they created an environment where Everton—the club with the longest run in the English top flight—found themselves further down the pecking order and in relegation battles. This in turn led to more spending for themselves and clubs who also found themselves needing to keep up in hopes of avoiding the drop.
With two financially super-charged clubs effectively taking up two of the top spots in the league, it creates pressure for the other 18 clubs, whether they are wanting to join them in Europe, or avoid relegation.
With these clubs effectively being able to create two first teams, it also makes a mockery of domestic and international club competitions. Teams that otherwise could’ve improved their financial standing with a good cup run, have suddenly found themselves not just being underdogs in name, but massive underdogs in reality.
Chelsea and City have, to a very real degree, bucked the laws of football gravity over the last 20 years, buoyed by advantages that other teams, even ones with far larger fan bases, cannot match. Chelsea may have had an occasional dip, but City have remained a fixture in the top 4, and more often in the top 2. Neither have been dragged into a relegation fight, nor threatened, for the most part, with missing out on European football.
And all of this isn’t even addressing the trophies won (or not) by their competitors. To me, the questions of trophies isn’t the most important matter, but it’s also not wholly unimportant. Chelsea and City have, at times, created environments that make it impossible for other teams to compete.
It is something we Liverpool know all too well, putting together three 90+ point seasons in 4 years with just one league title to show for it. Such a stretch would’ve been unthinkable just a few years ago. This, of course, creates more pressure throughout the football pyramid, and an incentive to engage in unsustainable business practices as well.
My hope is that the league uses Everton’s punishment as a basis for going after the big baddies in financial doping. If it’s a 10 point deduction for Everton, the punishment for both City and Chelsea need to be far more severe, and far-reaching.
It should include, at the very least, relegation and stripping of titles. (I do not support giving titles to runners-up, for the record).
And if other clubs are successful in suing Everton for damages, City and Chelsea could be in for a world of hurt.
Let’s hope that justice will prevail. And, given the more than 4 years the Premier League have investigated City, let’s hope that justice comes sooner rather than later.