LET’S get one thing clear right from the start. As much as some would claim otherwise, Everton have not been found guilty of cheating.
That jaw-dropping ten-point deduction is not a result of trying to defraud rivals.Everton were deducted ten points[/caption]
Not from welching on transfer deals. Not from defaulting on payments.
It is down to overspending. It is because they have been foolish with their money.
It is because they have run up bigger debts than their income allows.
And it is becauseis now run by independent panels and accountants.
A sport where red tape, not refs, now calls the shots. One of back-door.
Of course Friday’s ruling was a terrible day for Everton. But it goes far deeper than that.
It was a terrible day for the game as a whole.
One when the entire landscape changed irrevocably. A reason why it has become far easier to hate football than love it.
Because anyone who thinks this is a one-off, the sign that it will bring others to their senses and drag everyone into line, is living in another world.
This is only the start, believe me.
And a sport where the winners will ultimately be those who can afford the best lawyers and fight the most stringent and strongest defence.
Something this column warned about in Everton’s case, incidentally, when Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Grant Ingles and Graeme Sharp were drummed out in June.
CEO Barrett-Baxendale and chief finance and strategy officer Ingles were the two fighting the case. The only two in Goodison with the inside knowledge and expertise.
When they left, there was no one with details of all the facts and figures — and know-how — to pick up the baton.
Had they stayed, the outcome could well have been the same.
‘They haven’t cheated’
But at least they’d have been better placed to fight their corner — then and now, with the appeal.
There is no doubt Everton are a club that have been run abysmally.can rightfully be accused of that. No one could possibly argue otherwise.
Signings such as Alex Iwobi, . . . the list of big-money flops is endless. But they haven’t cheated.,
What they have done is over-spent, as simple as that.
Well, either they’ve got no mirrors in the Premier League or those rivals who initially complained studiously avoid them.
But what this ruling means is that effectively we now no longer know what we are watching or what the final table will be.
No one going to a game will be able to say with certainty what that day’s result actually means.
A 2-1 win? Where are we in the table now, then? Only there won’t be a definite answer.
‘This is a whole new ball game’
It could be sixth but, then again, it might be third. Or perhaps as low as 15th.
Football has steadily been edging away from the sport we all fell in love with as kids.
One where it was all about the goals, the tackles, the saves, the matches. Those days are long gone.
Yes, there have been points deductions in the Premier League before, but not in these circumstances.
Portsmouth were docked nine in 2010 for going into administration.
In 1997lost three for postponing a game against Premier League orders amid an injury crisis.
But this is a whole new ball game. One decided by independent panels imposing rules that no one fully understands.
Until the appeal is heard, there remains hope for Everton. Yet it doesn’t alter the fact that accountants have taken over.
How long before it’s not about the top goalscorer but the top lawyer?
Something all those rivals currently sniggering behind their hands would do well to bear in mind.