As the football world waits to see the outcome of the cases of Everton and Nottingham Forest after both apparently fell foul of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR’s), the CEO of the EPL, Richard Masters, has issued a tersely worded response to the government’s Culture, Media & Sport Committee.
There had been a previous suggestion by the committee that Masters had inferred that both Everton and Forest were not ‘big’ clubs, and in his response, the chief executive sought to clarify his earlier remarks.
‘First, you asked about whether a distinction is made between ‘big’ and ‘small’ Clubs within the Premier League. As you will recall, I was asked a question by a Committee Member who used the term “big Clubs” when arguing that there is cynicism about certain Clubs’ ability to use legal means to ensure that cases “take ten years or never come to fruition”,’ he replied via a letter addressed to Dame Caroline Dinenage, the Chair of the committee.
‘[…] As I said in my evidence, Everton and Nottingham Forest are valued and respected members of the Premier League. Both Clubs enjoy successful histories, have strong and passionate fanbases, and make a significant contribution not just to the Premier League’s vibrant competition, but also to their cities and local communities.
‘By reflecting the Committee Member’s framing of the question, I did not intend to suggest otherwise. It would be incorrect to infer from this that there is any unfair treatment based on Club size, as suggested in the Committee’s media statement.
‘Indeed, the point I made was the opposite, in that the Premier League Board applies the Rules consistently, irrespective of the Club in question.’
The main issue at hand for many appears to be how quickly both the Toffees and the Midlands-based side are being dealt with, considering that Premier League champions, Man City, have over 100 outstanding allegations against them but are months away from being questioned over their alleged malpractice.
‘You raise the issue of fairness and transparency in the recent Everton case and request certain confidential documents,’ Masters continued.
‘We respect the role of the Select Committee in holding Government to account and seeking insight from relevant industries on matters of public policy. We value the opportunity to provide such input and answer questions.
‘As the Committee will appreciate, being a private business, it is not our practice to provide or publish minutes of Premier League Board Meetings. Nor are we able to publish submissions the Premier League Board or Executive make as part of confidential legal proceedings.
‘However, I hope I can address the Committee’s questions as this is an important matter, and I am grateful for the opportunity to provide additional clarity further to my oral evidence to the Committee.
‘At all times during this process, the Premier League has sought to treat the Club fairly and with respect. Of course, as the competition organiser and administrator, it is also our role to ensure fairness for Clubs that have adhered to the Rules.
‘That means enforcing our Rulebook consistently and impartially.’
Any suggestion that the Commission overseeing any points deductions or other decisions was anything less than independent clearly irked Masters.
‘The Committee’s media statement suggests that this submission (from the Commission) somehow makes the Commission less than independent,’ he added.
‘As I explained to the Committee, the Judicial Panel, and the selected Commission that heard this case, are entirely independent of the League.
‘The Panel members are appointed by an Independent Chair in a process in which the League plays no part, and members of each Commission are appointed by that Chair independently, again in a process in which the League plays no part.
‘Each member of the independent Commission that heard this case was a senior and experienced lawyer or financial expert, including one former member of the judiciary.’
For the fans of both Premier League clubs, what happens next could determine whether they get to stay in the English top-flight or not.