Leeds United and Burnley have written to the Premier Leagueasking it to investigate whether Everton broke spending rules during the pandemic and reserving the right to take legal action.
The three clubs have been locked in a relegation struggle, with Everton securing their escape from the drop with victory over Crystal Palace on Thursday. Before that, their rivals asked for an inquiry that could lead to the Merseyside club being fined or docked points if found guilty. Everton say they have complied with the rules.
According to claims first reported by the Times, Leeds and Burnley have asked for clarity about whether Everton’s losses of £371.8m over the past three years break financial fair play rules. The rules allow for maximum losses of £105m over a three-year period and, although they were adjusted to allow clubs to write off losses incurred because of the pandemic, the complainants argue that Everton’s apparent Covid losses are far larger than other clubs’.
In their last accounts, Everton said £170m of their losses had been related to the pandemic. Aston Villa put their figure at £56m and Arsenal said £86m had been lost because of Covid.
In March Everton’s CEO, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, wrote in the club’s annual accounts: “Losses of at least £170m are attributed to the impact on the club of the Covid-19 pandemic, with £103m of that figure coming in the 2020- 21 financial year.
“The wide-ranging impact of Covid-19 on Everton — which further market analysis has indicated could include an additional £50m — covers lost revenues, additional costs due to strict Covid-19 playing protocols and a significant contraction in the transfer market which resulted in the inability to generate the level of transfer fees which could reasonably have been expected pre-pandemic.”
Leeds and Burnley are reported to want the league to appoint an independent commission to look at Everton’s records and decide on disciplinary measures, should they be deemed appropriate. Neither club would comment publicly on the letter. The Premier League also declined to comment.
An Everton spokesperson said: “We have worked so closely with the Premier League to make sure we are compliant, we are comfortable we have complied with the rules.
“External auditors have told us what we can and cannot claim against the pandemic. If they want to take legal action then they can do so by all means.”