February 29, 2024

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: A general view outside the stadium ahead of the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2020 in Liverpool, England. The game was postponed as a Covid-19 precaution following a number of positive tests. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Questions over the commission hearing being prejudiced before handing Everton a 10-point deduction, and potential damage to the Premier League’s reputation, have been raised by Paul Quinn.

 

The Toffees journalist, also known as The esk, wrote in The Guardian on November 18 that the league’s desire for a 12-point deduction may have been leaked through The Telegraph last month (October 25). The article also questioned the appropriateness of such a severe punishment given the “partial acceptance of some mitigating factors.”

 

With the punishment already in effect Quinn also claimed it is “presumptive” for it to have been imposed before an appeal has been heard, while noting that it would be “ironic” if “poor governance” of the commission were to negatively effect the Premier League’s “integrity” when it is poor governance at Everton at the heart of the entire issue.

 

He wrote: “Prejudice – the reporting of a potential 12-point penalty by the media during the hearing. How can that not be prejudicial? The report was accurate, that was the penalty the Premier League was seeking.

“Proportionality – how proportional is a 10-point penalty given the partial acceptance of some of the mitigating factors, but particularly the complexity of the case? More than 28,000 documents were included in the hearing bundle. This was not a simple case of dishonest dealings or a clear intent to cheat Everton’s competitors.

 

“Presumptive punishment – the immediate imposition of the sporting sanction, the 10-point penalty is surely presumptive? What if, on appeal, a second commission finds in favour of Everton, partially or completely? Does this not affect sporting integrity?

 

“Each of these points alone are significant enough to question the validity of the commission’s decision. Combined, they provide a compelling case for harsh, or even injustice.”

 

He added further: “Everton have been penalised for poor decision-making – poor governance playing a huge part.

 

“How ironic if the Premier League was, in turn, damaged, its reputation and integrity brought into question due to the poor decision and poor governance of this commission?”

High bar

These are the sorts of questions which the club’s representatives should be analysing in detail ahead of the appeal which Colin Chong has already confirmed will be launched.

They will have an uphill battle to convince an appeals panel hearing that evidence has been missed or ignored, or that the original hearing was procedurally flawed, but there is clearly huge strength of feeling inside and outside the club.

Stan Collymore said that the Premier League are “quite prevalent at briefing journalists” [Caught Offside, 27 October] when he suggested that the 12-point story came out as a way to send a message to Manchester City and their 115 outstanding charges, which they deny.

 

Whether such elements are sufficient to get Everton’s appeals case off the ground will be a matter for whoever is appointed to the panel.

 

And Simon Jordan had indicated on talkSPORT that the league hadn’t been particularly impressive in presenting their case, which begs the question of how bad the outcome might have been if they had been.

 

Since the club eventually accepted they had breached spending rules it is surely impossible to escape without some sort of substantial punishment, given the authorities are evidently making a point of cracking down hard.

 

But having handed down a record points deduction for the English top flight on a single charge, which came with a series of mitigating circumstances which, on paper, seem pretty compelling, a significant step back might be a realistic ambition.

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