The Virtue Of Points Deductions

It has been a wild Premier League season both on and off the field. An especially entertaining aspect has been Everton’s multiple point deductions for violations of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules. But the Toffees are not alone. Nottingham Forest also received a four-point deduction and the English Football League (EFL), which governs tiers 2-4, punished Sheffield United for violations when they were last in the Championship. The Blades will start their next Championship campaign on -2 points. These sanctions have generated a lot of controversy, but I consider them necessary.

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No Set Guidelines For Deductions

Admittedly, implementation has been a bit of a shambles. Why are they picking the points values they are? What makes a successful appeal? Why on Earth could the appeals process drag on beyond the last day of the season? The Premier League would do well to bring more clarity on these matters, especially in shorter formats than the full findings. But overall, the policy is sound.

Point deductions have long been recognized as necessary to hold clubs accountable. Middlesbrough was docked 3 points for not fulfilling a fixture in 1997. In 2010, Portsmouth lost 9 points for entering administration.

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Outside the top flight, the EFL has levied points deduction of as many as 30 points against Derby, Luton, Bournemouth, Leeds, and Rotherham this century (and that’s not an exhaustive all-time list). Without sporting sanctions, punishments will be fairly meaningless. The lost revenue of relegation is tens of millions of pounds a year at minimum. At the top end of the table, the difference in Liverpool’s revenue from the 2022-23 Champions League and the 2023-24 Europa League is nearly £80 million ($98.9 million). No fine will be a deterrent when that much money is on the line. Transfer bans are insufficient. Points deductions hit clubs where they care the most: their bank account.

Unsurprising City Double Standard

Of course, the biggest problem with this season’s glut of points deductions is that it seems preposterous to punish Everton, Nottingham Forest, and Sheffield United all while Man City has yet to face consequences for their 115 charges.

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However, I’d like to think the Premier League has a plan (I know, very Pollyanna of me). Because Man City is owned by a sovereign state, the stakes are high. If it seems like the Premier League levels unprecedented punishment that it made up just for City, it is looking at an international incident and lawsuits against lawyers with unlimited resources.

But sanctioning clubs at the bottom of the table establishes how these violations are dealt with. The case against Chelsea then provides the opportunity to establish a precedent for how to punish clubs who won trophies while cheating. Then the pieces will be in place to punish the biggest cheaters in England Man City. Or City will buy their way out of consequences……

Regardless, points deductions are necessary to scare owners straight. I hope they are here to stay.

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