Everton were handed a wincing 10-point penalty on Friday for a breach of the Premier League&aposs Profit and Sustainability Rules in a stinging judgment from an independent panel that instantly provoked two strong reactions around a club that had nothing to do with the verdict. Why were Everton being punished when City had not yet been, and if Everton were given such a strong punishment for one breach surely City should face an even stronger one for over 100 alleged breaches?
The short answers are that more straightforward cases take less time to settle and that City will face an even stronger one if found guilty of the most serious offences (i.e. not just non-co-operation), but we&aposve known this since February when the charges were announced. However, the way these two questions have been shouted so loudly and frequently since Friday reinforced what a battle the Blues have on their hands in the court of public opinion.
It shouldn&apost be so hard to point out that Everton&aposs case is not the same as City&aposs and so there&aposs no point trying to apply to City what has been handed down in a completely separate case. If Everton&aposs case was the equivalent of an argument with the Premier League over who was at fault for a traffic accident that both acknowledged had occurred, City&aposs is more like the Premier League having to prove that City deliberately started a 20-car pileup that the Blues insist never happened.
There is far more to argue over with City and they are much bigger issues, which is why it needs a lot of time and why the punishments would be so grave. As the Manchester Evening News reported over nine months ago, football finance expert Kieran Maguire stated that “such is the severity of the allegations and accusations that the position for one of the two parties is going to be untenable by the end of this”.
The noise around City&aposs case since Friday suggests that the legal and financial details aren&apost interesting enough to headline a lot of mainstream commentary though, and Everton as a club contributed to this by noting in their official response to their points deduction that they would &aposmonitor with great interest the decisions made in any other cases concerning the Premier Leagues profit and sustainability rules&apos. In other words, if you&aposre going to punish us so harshly for this then you had better come down harder on Chelsea and City (if they are found guilty).
Everton are entitled to feel aggrieved at their punishment but it would be wrong to conflate their position as similar to City&aposs when one club admitted wrongdoing and the other definitely hasn&apost. There hasn&apost been any evidence put forward by City to support their position, but there hasn&apost from the Premier League either and it is the Premier League who have to meet a high burden of proof on incredibly serious charges.
Everton aren&apost interested in other cases for the good of football as much as for determining whether they are being treated more unfairly than other clubs. That isn&apost to criticise them but to reflect that every club – including City – and also the Premier League are always out to get the best deal for themselves and rile against preferential treatment for others.
The problem for City in the wake of Everton&aposs strict punishment will be that clubs from boardroom to terrace level will expect stronger punishments now for City (and Chelsea) regardless of the fact that it is a very different case. Many had already assumed guilt without bothering to look for evidence and that doesn&apost look like changing; as Pep Guardiola said in the immediate aftermath, they feel &aposalready sentenced&apos.