As writes the F365, Everton fans may have felt a sense of déjà vu as they watched their team leave the Goodison Park pitch following their 4-1 defeat to Newcastle United. This time last year, they were in a similar situation, languishing in 18th place in the Premier League with only 29 points and six games left to play. They managed to avoid relegation with a dramatic final home win against Crystal Palace. Fast forward 12 months, and their position has barely changed. They have one less point than they did a year ago and have played one more game, leaving them just two points from safety, the same as last year.
Despite this, fans remain hopeful and continue to support their team. The mood at Goodison Park during the Newcastle game was initially positive, with hundreds of fans turning up and creating a vibrant atmosphere. However, after the game, the mood was different. Instead of the usual vocal and angry reaction to underperformance, there was a subdued feeling of resignation. Fans realized that this time, there may not be any last-minute heroics to save the team from relegation, as has happened in the past.
With only five games remaining, Sean Dyche is tasked with saving Burnley’s season and their Premier League status. However, much of the confidence in his ability to do so appears to be dwindling. Dyche was initially brought in as a survival specialist, akin to Sam Allardyce, to fight the perpetual battles that Burnley often finds themselves in. Yet, the relegation battle they face this season is different, with a sense of existential angst permeating the air. The issues at the club have been brewing for years and extend beyond the manager or players alone.
The situation has been exacerbated by the Premier League’s charges against them for breaching FFP regulations in March. While teams are allowed a maximum loss of £105 million over three years, with special provisions made for the pandemic, Everton recorded a total loss of nearly £372 million over the past three years. The club has attributed at least £170 million of that to the pandemic, but there is no explanation as to why their losses were so much higher than practically any other club.
From every perspective, the numbers are not in Everton’s favour. The club made a loss of £44.7m last season, following losses of £120.9m in the 2020/21 season and £139.8m in 2019-20. This three-year loss of £313.5m is nearly three times the allowed £105m rolling three-year loss under the Premier League’s Profit & Sustainability Rules. Furthermore, there are concerns surrounding the club’s plans to build a new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock, with the cost now reaching £760m and work falling behind schedule. Questions have also been raised about why the club wasn’t charged for breaching the rules last year, while other clubs were.
Critics argue that the Premier League’s sudden interest in enforcing its own rules is “politically-motivated,” as it seeks to appear tough ahead of the imposition of an independent regulator for the game. Regardless of the league’s motivations, if Everton is found to have flagrantly breached the rules, it would be a significant matter of concern.
On the field, Everton faces five games to save its season, with two of them being tough fixtures against Brighton and Manchester City. The remaining three games are more winnable against Leicester, Wolves, and Bournemouth. If Everton can remain in touch, their final game at home against Bournemouth could determine their fate. However, if they fail to stay afloat, the future could be even more troublesome for the club.