Martin Samuel has criticised the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules for leaving Everton at risk of losing Abdoulaye Doucouré to Saudi Arabia.
The Times journalist sarcastically suggested via the paper’s website on 23 January that it was “good news” for the Toffees star to now be a target for Al-Ettifaq in the January transfer window, after Fabrizio Romano reported an approach on 20 January.
With Everton having just received a second referral for a spending breach Samuel claimed that has left them “vulnerable” to losing the Malian midfielder if a Saudi bid arrives, as “profit enthusiasts” now celebrate “spotless” balance sheets rather than trophies.
Samuel wrote: “In other good news, the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules have left Everton vulnerable to a bid for Abdoulaye Doucouré from Al-Ettifaq of Saudi Arabia.
“Profit enthusiasts — because let’s not pretend Premier League football isn’t sustainable — will no doubt be lining the streets when our clubs parade their spotless balance sheets on an open-top bus. After all, that’s what the game is about.”
There is nothing wrong with spotless balance sheets in theory but it certainly is a bit rich for the Premier League to have changed their tune on the subject after decades of largesse made it the financial behemoth that it is without a word from the league office.
It is impossible to argue that Everton haven’t been their own worst enemies a lot of the time when those in charge have made so many poor decisions over recent years.
But the idea that a Toffees side which has already been forced to spend very little over successive transfer windows while selling high-priced stars like Richarlison and Anthony Gordon now losing another key player midseason, when they are facing the threat of a second points deduction, is evidence of a system of governance working particularly well doesn’t seem to stand up when the sanctions at Everton are unique.
Perhaps over the coming season the chickens will all be coming home to roost up and down the league, but while Nottingham Forest have now received a referral, Manchester City have denied over 100 times without a hearing even being held yet, and there is an ongoing investigation at Chelsea, the action taken against the Toffees feels punitive.
Maybe it isn’t and the logic of Richard Masters and company is entirely sound and will ultimately be evenly applied across the board.