Everton fans protest 10-point deduction in 'corrupt' Premier League
Everton fans staged a mass protest against the Premier League during Sunday's clash against Manchester United after being docked 10 points for breaches of financial regulations.
The Toffees were handed the biggest sporting sanction in Premier League history for breaching profitability and sustainability rules.
Clubs in the English top flight are allowed to lose a maximum £105 million ($130 million) over a three-year period or face sanctions.
Everton admitted to being in breach of those rules for the 2021/22 season, but have been shocked at the severity of the sanction handed down by an independent commission.
"Most people in football are shocked by the enormity of it," said Everton manager Sean Dyche.
"Disproportionate is a word used by the club. Obviously we feel a bit aggrieved by that."
The deduction has left Everton 19th in the table and put their 70-year stay in the top flight at risk.
Goodison Park was awash with placards bearing the Premier League logo and the word "corrupt" before kick-off and 10 minutes into the match.
Everton fans protested outside the Premier League's headquarters in London on Friday.
And there were further demonstrations on the streets around Goodison in the build-up to kick-off.
A huge banner hung from the side of The Brick pub read "where there is power, greed and money...there is corruption."
At the heart of Everton's complaints is the process by which the sanction came about.
Mayor of Manchester and Everton season ticket holder Andy Burnham published a letter on Sunday that he has sent to Premier League chiefs describing the disciplinary process as "regulatory malpractice."
Burnham criticised the lack of a Premier League sanctions policy before the charges were brought against the club and the attempt to introduce one in August this year, while the Everton case was being held.
There is also scepticism at the severity of such a sanction at the same time that the Premier League tries to resist the introduction of an independent regulator for football in England.
"I think we have been deliberately targeted because of the threat of an independent regulator. It's obvious and wrong," Everton fan Matt Hall, 35, told AFP as fans gathered to protest outside the stadium.
There is also frustration at the slow progress made in a Premier League investigation into over 100 breaches of financial breaches by English champions Manchester City between 2009 and 2018.
Chelsea could also face punishment for reported breaches of financial fair play rules during Roman Abramovich's reign in charge at Stamford Bridge.
In a club statement after the 10-point sanction was announced, Everton said they will "monitor with great interest the decisions made in any other cases concerning the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules."
"Why us? Why not City, why not Chelsea?" said another supporter Patrick Garner, 45. "Everton are an easy target and we won't take it lying down."
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