The Premier League risks losing the trust of fans over its handling of financial cases, an Everton supporters’ representative has said.
Everton face the threat of a further points deduction after being referred to an independent commission for the second time within 12 months this week for a breach of the league’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR).
A PSR complaint against Nottingham Forest was also referred on Monday.
Everton were docked 10 points last November for the first PSR breach, and expect to learn the outcome of their appeal against that sanction by the end of February.
Julie Clarke, the secretary of the Everton fan advisory board, sat behind Premier League chief executive Richard Masters as he gave evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday.
Everton and Forest could both be sanctioned before a hearing considering more than 100 charges against Manchester City has even taken place, and Clarke says she spoke to Masters after the hearing and took him to task over what she saw as the league’s lack of transparency over PSR matters.
“If he wants to say (other cases are) taking longer because there are different considerations, you have to tell people what those considerations are. Football fans are intelligent and articulate. They’re not fools. Only a fool would think that,” Clarke told the PA news agency.
“They need to be clear about what’s holding up the other clubs while they can investigate and sanction us, and then announce they’re holding another investigation with us and Nottingham Forest without announcing why other clubs that they’re investigating still haven’t had a hearing.
“I’ve never believed a club is too big to be relegated – if you play badly you should be relegated.
“But when there are intervening bodies coming in to expedite that process which are not transparent and seem unfair and disproportionate, then that’s where the Premier League starts to lose the trust of fans.”
Masters told MPs the “volume and character” of the more than 100 charges laid against Manchester City meant that case was being heard “in a completely different environment”.
Clarke felt the committee should have pressed Masters to reveal the date for City’s independent commission hearing, after he confirmed one had been set.
“I wouldn’t have accepted that and I was furious actually that nobody came back and challenged him on that,” she said.
“If he knows, and he’s sitting there in front of a select committee, I think it was within their gift to say ‘I’m sorry, we don’t accept that you won’t tell us’.”
Clarke revealed she had spoken to committee member Rupa Huq over her fears regarding Everton’s future as a community asset should further sanctions be applied.
“I explained to her the risk that they were putting Everton Football Club in, and all of the work that they do in the community, the mental health and wellness hub, the new stadium and what it’s bringing to that part of the city that’s been massively underprivileged for years and years,” Clarke said.
“What the new stadium is going to bring to the city can’t be measured at the moment. It was very important that those people on that committee knew how important Everton is in its community, not just as a football club.”
Clubs opted not to adopt a sanctioning framework for PSR when the issue was raised at a Premier League meeting in 2020. The expedited PSR process under which Everton and Forest have been referred was agreed by clubs at last summer’s league annual general meeting.
The Premier League has been contacted for comment.
The independent commission which heard the first PSR complaint against Everton last year found the club’s desire to improve their on-pitch performance had resulted in them acting “irresponsibly” and exceeding permitted losses under PSR by £19.5million.