The Premier League have hit back at Andy Burnham’s claims that they are guilty of “regulatory malpractice” and “abuse of process” by deducting Everton 10 points, insisting that they “entirely refuted his allegations.”
Burnham – the mayor of Greater Manchester and an Everton season-ticket holder – last week wrote an open letter to Premier League chair Alison Brittain in which he said there had not been a fair process when enforcing the deduction.
Everton were deemed to have breached Profit and Sustainability Rules by an independent commission, which determined they had losses of £124.5m over three years – £19.5m over the permitted threshold.
But Burnham, a former Secretary of State for Health, was critical of the Premier League for adopting a sanctions policy in August, after Everton had been charged and before their case was heard.
“The fact that the Premier League sought to introduce a new sanctions policy in the middle of this process amounts, in my view, to an abuse of process,” he wrote.
“It could be argued that the Premier League handing a new penalty regime to the commission in this way is akin to the Government handing new sentencing guidelines to a judge in the middle of a trial. Any right-minded person would see that as an inappropriate attempt to influence the process.”
However, The Telegraph and The Daily Mirror are reporting that Brittain has written a three-page letter in response to Burnham that lays out the organisation’s process around the decision and refutes all allegations of impropriety.
She explained that the Premier League do not have a set sanction in place because a fixed penalty would hinder the ability of the independent panel to display any discretion or take mitigating circumstances into consideration. And she claims that having no fixed sanction actually provided a greater threat.
Brittain went on to say that a commission hearing a case independently invites submissions from both sides on appropriate sanctions and added that Premier League clubs were asked about the potential introduction of a fixed set of sanctions in 2020 but the consensus feedback among the 20 at the time – Everton included – was not to impose any.
The two major offences for which the Premier League does have fixed sanctions are a nine-point deduction for clubs entering administration and a 30-point deduction for clubs seeking to join an unsanctioned competition – a la the European Super League plans in 2021.
Brittain also detailed that the Premier League worked closely with Everton during the period of the club’s breach and that they ignored clear warnings over their spending, opting not to stop buying players that put them in breach of profit and sustainability rules.
Burnham insisted that his open letter was in his capacity as an Everton season-ticket holder, rather than a politician, while he has also claimed that Sky Sports pulled an interview with him ahead of the Toffees’ clash with Manchester United on Sunday. Sky responded to that complaint by insisting they have presented a balanced view of the situation throughout and the Premier League confirmed they have not requested any interview to be pulled.
Everton have announced plans to appeal against the 10-point deduction and wider verdict, which they have called “wholly unjust”.