Cases ‘makes mockery of Premier League’, says Andros Townsend

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The uncertainty around how financial rule breaches are handled “makes a mockery of the Premier League”, says Luton Town midfielder Andros Townsend.

Everton were docked two points for a second violation of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules (PSR) on Monday.

They say they will appeal against the decision but the process may not be completed before the season ends.

That could leave clubs uncertain of their top-flight status after 19 May.

PSR rules permit clubs to lose £105m over three years and Everton were found to have breached that by £16.6m for the three-year period to 2022-23.

The points deduction has dropped Everton one place to 16th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone.

The Toffees also had a 10-point deduction reduced to six on appeal in February for the three-year period to 2021-22 while Nottingham Forest were deducted four points for PSR breaches in March and are awaiting the outcome of an appeal.

Luton sit just inside the drop zone – separated from 17th-placed Forest on goal difference – and Townsend says his club still look at the league as though no points have been deducted because of the uncertainty surrounding hearings and appeals processes.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with appeals,” the former Everton player told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club.

“We were probably celebrating when Everton got 10 points taken off them and then they got four given back and we’re back in the relegation zone. So we take out the deductions to take away the confusion and we’ll see at the end of the season.”

Townsend said that he does not advocate for teams receiving points deductions and that the way in which they are handed out “doesn’t make sense”.

He added: “I think it makes a mockery of the Premier League. When you announce the charge, you have to be certain of the points deduction.”

The 2023-24 season technically remains ‘live’ until the annual general meeting in June when relegated clubs transfer their certificates and 24 May has been selected as a ‘backstop date’ for the appeals process to be concluded.

Townsend said he thinks clubs had not anticipated that punishments for breaching the rules would be “this severe”.

“Everton would have known they weren’t going to be inside that £105m debt mark because they spent £30m in the summer,” he said.

“They spent that knowing they weren’t going to make this £105m target. I think clubs just thought it would be a fine and a slap on the wrists and get on with it.”

The Premier League had asked for a five-point deduction for Everton but an independent commission concluded that the fact Everton have already been punished this season “for losses in years which overlap with the years at issue in these proceedings” merited a two-point reduction in punishment.

A further point was credited back for the loss of revenue after a sponsorship deal with Russian company USM was suspended, along with the early admission of guilt.

Nottingham Forest have submitted an appeal against their points deduction while Everton say they will appeal against their latest punishment

‘We know what we need to do to stay in Premier League’

Despite the uncertainty around when the appeal process might be complete, Everton fan and host of The Blue Room podcast Peter MacFarlane believes this latest deduction gives them – if not their relegation rivals – clarity.

“There has to be some sort of relief because it appears that it’s coming to its conclusion now,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I feel like we’ve been in the dark since November – we haven’t actually known where we stood in the league with these point deductions.

“As disappointing as it is to get more points taken off us and how much of an injustice we may feel that is, at least we now know what we need to do to stay in the Premier League.”

Everton face games against relegation rivals Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and Luton as well as the Merseyside derby on 24 April and a trip to Arsenal on the last day of the season.

“It’s been difficult to keep morale high – or any resemblance of morale, to be honest. We just have to go out and win now and stay in the Premier League,” MacFarlane said.

“It’s been difficult to pick up points at home given the mood around the place but Evertonians have to come together, and I know that’s what we do best when our backs are up against the wall.”

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