Everton boss Sean Dyche has expressed shock at the “disproportionate” 10-point penalty imposed on the club but insisted he and his players are ready to take on the latest challenge put in front of them.
Dyche was trying to enjoy a short break during the international window when he got word of the unprecedented sanction handed down by an independent commission for breaches of the Premier League’s financial rules – a penalty that Everton will appeal against.
Speaking publicly for the first time on the matter, Dyche said: “I think like everyone, certainly in these parts, I was shocked and seemingly from the wave of noise after that, most people in football are shocked by the enormity of it.
“Disproportionate is a word used by the club. Obviously we feel a bit aggrieved by that, but on the other hand it doesn’t change the focus. The focus since I got there is sorting things out on the pitch, getting the team to win.
“I think we were on the right lines, delivering strong performances. This has just given us a push backwards to come forwards again. The job hasn’t changed. It’s just made it more difficult under the current circumstances until the appeal…
“I don’t know every inch of the past, I don’t know why the commission have come out with what they have but I certainly believe in what the club put forward. It feels disproportionate, it feels unjust and plenty of voices out there feel the same.
“What is done is done for now, appeal pending, and we have to get on with it.”
Everton fans have hit out at the penalty, and have raised more than £40,000 to fund protests against the Premier League. A demonstration was due to take in London on Friday outside the league offices, while a plane carrying a banner will fly over Manchester City’s match against Liverpool on Saturday.
On Sunday, when Everton’s game against United will be televised, home fans will be asked to hold up red cards which call the Premier League “corrupt”.
Everton had been showing encouraging signs before the penalty, winning six out of nine in all competitions to climb up the table, but have now dropped to second bottom – level on four points with basement boys Burnley ahead of Sunday’s match against Manchester United.
“I spoke to the group and said, ‘Look, the league table is one thing but I don’t change my story very often and I believe the final league table is the truth of the season, and I’m not going to change now’,” Dyche added.
“For sure, it changes the viewpoint but it doesn’t change what we’re doing. In fact it enhances what we’re doing. We need to go harder, stronger. This is what it is. It’s been about refocus as much as anything.”
The penalty has raised all manner of questions at Everton, with suggestions that rival clubs may now pursue compensation claims potentially impacting the proposed takeover by 777 Partners.
On the pitch, there was a sense of optimism that after two seasons fighting relegation things were looking up but – for now at least – they are back in the bottom three.
Dyche said that did not concern him in the immediate term, but there was clear frustration from the boss that off-pitch dramas are once again dominating the agenda at Goodison Park.
“You have to take away the noise,” he said. “I’ve had to do it endlessly since I’ve been here, keep pushing away the noise around this football club.
“Bizarrely, we were talking about it before – the last press conference before (Crystal) Palace was one of the first ones that was just about football. And lo and behold while I was away we get a 10-point deficit. So what do you do? You just keep taking it on.”