Everton fueled by resentment and ire at record sanction as Man United heads to Goodison Park bearpit

AP , Thursday 23 Nov 2023

Fueled by a sense of perceived injustice, Everton is ready to turn its Goodison Park home into a bearpit in response to being deducted a Premier League-record 10 points for breaching financial rules.

Everton fueled by resentment and ire at record sanction as Man United heads to Goodison Park bearpit


Manchester United, beware.

Everton’s first match since receiving a sanction that stunned many in soccer — not least those associated with the Merseyside club in question — is on Sunday when United visits a stadium which will be seething with fury and resentment.

Goodison Park, an old and compact ground, is famously atmospheric and often hostile, with the vocal home fans never shy about getting their point across — even toward their own players and officials.

This time, the ire will be directed toward the Premier League following a penalty that puts Everton’s 70-year status in the top flight at huge risk.

An appeal has been launched by Everton but that hasn’t stopped its director of football, Kevin Thelwell, speaking of a “wholly disproportionate and unjust ruling” that will provide “additional fuel” for the club.

A fans group, the 1878s, has organized a protest that is calling on supporters inside the stadium to chant an expletive-laden phrase, suggesting corruption in the league, in the 10th minute of the game against United.

On the back of a crowdfunding campaign that has raised more than $50,000, tens of thousands of pink cards featuring the word “corrupt” and the logo of the Premier League will be distributed among fans of both Everton and maybe even United. There are reports that a plane will be flown over Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium during the Saturday lunchtime match against Liverpool with a banner containing a message about the 10-point deduction.

“We won’t take this lying down,” the 1878s group said, vowing to make Goodison “as hostile and electric as it can be at a pivotal time for Everton Football Club.”

Local lawmakers have voiced their complaints in parliament. Liverpool’s mayor, Steve Rotheram, has described the points penalty as “ludicrous.”

At the heart of Everton’s anger is frustration at the severity of the sanction for going less than 20 million pounds over the maximum losses allowed of 105 million pounds ($130 million) across a three-year period, especially when that period was partly during a pandemic and while the club was attempting to finance a move to a state-of-the-art new stadium.

Everton has accepted wrongdoing — it has been working with the league in recent years to get the club’s finances back in order — and feels the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. There’s also a sense Everton is being made an example amid fears that the likes of City and Chelsea, who have been accused by the league of various breaches of regulations — in City’s case 115 of them — might not be dealt with so severely.

While the appeal process runs it course, and Everton could yet receive more punishment if it has to give compensation to rivals affected by its overspending, Sean Dyche’s team is likely to be driven by an us-against-the-world attitude in its bid to climb out of the relegation zone, having dropped to next-to-last place on just four points.

The “spirit remains strong — unwavering,” Thelwell said. “Sean and the players are fully focused on the work that lies ahead.”

If this punishment had been meted out during the last two seasons, the likelihood is Everton would have been relegated. One thing working in the team's favor this season is its improvement under Dyche in recent weeks and the fact that the overall standard of the league isn't as high, with the three promoted clubs — Luton, Sheffield United and Burnley — still favored to go down.

Indeed, Everton is only two points from safety even after the sanction and has been in good form, winning six of its last nine games in all competitions.

United will arrive in improved form itself, even if back-to-back narrow wins in the league might be papering over the cracks in Erik ten Hag's team amid a lack of identity in its playing style and injury issues that will see Rasmus Hojlund, Christian Eriksen, Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez miss the match. Left back Luke Shaw is at least available again after three months out.

Yet there's an added factor — Everton's rage at the establishment — with which United's player have to contend on Sunday.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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