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EPL Points Deductions Causing Chaos in the Relegation Zone

The Premier League future of certain clubs in England’s top tier no longer depends on the points gained on the playing field. Nottingham Forest has become the latest club to suffer a points deduction by breaching the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability regulations with Luton Town, like when Everton lost points earlier in the season, again the biggest beneficiary. 

Due to the points deductions, the relegation odds listed by online sportsbooks featured on Safest Betting Sites and overseen by Senior Sports Editor and betting expert Ian Bruce, have changed in comparison to what they would have been. Bottom clubs Sheffield United (1/100) and Burnley (2/11) seem doomed, but Forest’s points deduction has seen its odds shorten to 23/20 after the points deduction announcement. Luton’s odds have drifted to 8/13.

While Everton (11/2) is better off thanks to a successful appeal, an impending second charge could see these odds change. 

Everton’s 2023/24 Journey

In mid-November last year, a struggling Everton team’s Premier League future, which was already less than secure, suffered a further setback as the Merseyside club received the heaviest points deduction penalty in Premier League history. 

Not only was the removal of 10 points from The Toffee’s already-meagre total enough to send the club into the mire of potential relegation, but it also opened a whole other can of worms. Burnley, Leeds and Southampton, clubs that suffered the ignominy of relegation in recent seasons while Everton survived, were given the go-ahead to take legal action against The Toffees.

A May 2023 ruling by David Phillips KC in May 2023 granted the relegated clubs permission to take legal steps against Everton if the Premier League deemed the club had breached financial regulations. With a 28-day window to lodge, the other clubs eventually opted against the legal route, deciding to negotiate privately with Everton instead.

Everton, meanwhile, chose to appeal against the imposed points penalty. In late February, Sean Dyche’s team received the news that the original censure had been reduced from 10 points to six, meaning Everton up to 15th position from 17th in the EPL, five points clear of the relegation zone. Luton Town, the team in 18th on goal difference at the time, was suddenly four points off safety instead of level on points with The Toffees.

Everton’s potential woes are not over, though. The Premier League later announced that two clubs were under investigation for breaching the same financial rules. As one of the clubs named, the Merseysiders could face a second points deduction, while the league authority identified Nottingham Forest as the other.

With Everton lying 16th in the Premier League, only four points above the drop zone, Dyche’s men face a nervy wait until the verdict of the second hearing on 8 April. A similar sanction to the first could see The Toffees thrust back into the bottom three, making the results against the other bottom quarter sides in the league – Nottingham Forest, Brentford, Luton and Sheffield United even more crucial than they already will be.

Nottingham Forest’s Woes

Nottingham Forest’s return to the Premier League has been anything but straightforward. After substantial spending in the last few EFL Championship seasons to improve the chances of reaching the top tier, the rewards of doing so have come with a cost. On 18 March, the Premier League hit Forest with a four-point deduction for breaching profitability and sustainability rules while in the Championship.

This means that Nottingham Forest fans will turn up at the City Ground on 30 March knowing defeat against Crystal Palace means their heroes will remain in the EPL relegation zone despite having earned just enough points this season to be outside it in 17th position in the league.

Of their fellow relegation candidates, The Garibaldis still have to play Everton, Sheffield United and Burnley, all away from home, before the end of the season. With the four-point deduction, it is even more imperative that Nuno Espírito Santo’s outfit manages as many points as possible from these fixtures than it would have been. 

Games against top-four challengers Tottenham, in-form Wolves, high-flying Man City and an unpredictable Chelsea side also loom large on Forest’s horizon, and points from these fixtures may be hard to come by. 

As mentioned earlier, fellow strugglers Everton seem likely to lose further points, which could provide some respite for the beleaguered West Bridgford side. Ultimately though, Santo would prefer not to rely on a further Everton points penalty to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Potential Delays in Deciding the Relegated Teams

The Premier League may have created a rod for its own back, as the protracted delays in conducting the Everton and Nottingham Forest hearings and announcing the results mean relegation uncertainty could stretch beyond the 2023/24 season’s final day on 19 May.

The appeals deadline is set for 25 May, a full five days after the Premier League season ends. Hence, the possibility exists that clubs in the relegation spots after the EPL’s final day may not be the ones playing Championship football in 2024/25. This is a less-than-ideal position for the world’s richest football league to find itself in.

Man City in Danger?

The precedents set by the Everton and Nottingham Forest verdicts mean the defending Premier League champions Man City’s hierarchy won’t be resting easily. The Citizens face 115 charges of breaching the Premier League’s Financial Fair Play rules between 2009 and 2018, substantially more than those of the two relegation candidates. 

With City’s hearings taking place later this year, verdicts are only expected in 2025. In January, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters released a statement in which he included the following:

“If any club, whether they are the current champions or otherwise, had been found in breach of the spending rules for year ’23, they would be in exactly the same position as Everton or Nottingham Forest. The volume and character of the charges laid before Man City, which I cannot talk about at all, are being heard in a completely different environment.

The hearing, held by an independent commission, is scheduled for later this year.”

In light of Everton and Nottingham Forest’s points penalties, many supporters and managers have questioned whether different rules exist for cash-strapped clubs and super-rich ones. I suppose we’ll have to wait until 2025 to find out.

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