Sheffield United's ironic Carlos Tevez link to Everton points deduction panel amid Leeds United legal claim
Sheffield United's ironic link to Everton 10-point panel as clubs plan legal action
One member of the three-man panel that imposed Everton's 10-point deduction for breaching profit and sustainability rules was in charge of West Ham United's finances during the 'Carlos Tevez Affair' which also impacted Sheffield United back in 2006/07. The Toffees have fallen into the Premier League's bottom three after the sanction, moving United to third-bottom and to within a point of fourth-bottom Luton Town.
Everton have pledged to appeal the unprecedented penalty and a supporters' group has raised more than £40,000 to fund their own appeal, which will see banners unfurled ahead of Sunday's home clash against Manchester United at Goodison Park. A plane carrying a message to the Premier League will also be flown over the Etihad when Manchester City face Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime.
The independent commission's ruling is undoubtedly a big boost to United's survival hopes, dragging another side into the relegation dogfight that previously looked like comprising four teams, but many Blades fans will know not to get their hopes up just yet with the appeal in the works. Also keeping a close eye on proceedings will be last season's relegated clubs, Leeds United and Leicester City, who went down while Everton survived by the skin of their teeth in 17th.
National newspaper reports have claimed that those two clubs - plus Burnley, who believe Everton's overspending led to them being relegated the previous season - could join forces to sue Everton for £300m. It is an unprecedented situation that will have many supporters casting their mind back to the Tevez Affair, when West Ham illegitimately signed the Argentinian striker and his compatriot Javier Mascherano.
The transfers contravened Premier League rules on third-party ownership, some West Ham officials covered up the situation and Tevez went on to keep the Hammers in the Premier League, at United's expense. After then-Blades owner Kevin McCabe unsuccessfully lobbied for United's reinstatement, United launched legal action against West Ham and after an independent tribunal ruled United were entitled to compensation, the two parties eventually settled on a £20m figure.
The Hammers delegation that met McCabe in Brussels consisted of Scott Duxbury, whose conduct over the Tevez affair was called into question by the Football Association's independent tribunal, and finance director Nick Igoe, who had, along with chairman Eggert Magnusson, come clean about the arrangements five months after the players signed.
Igoe was West Ham's finance director between August 1997 and December 2012, with his Linkedin profile describing it as "a challenging but immensely rewarding experience". A list of "major achievements" during his time at Upton Park included "maintaining financial stability of club ... including dealing with impact of exceptional litigation costs."
Igoe later took up post as chief financial officer of the London Scottish rugby league club on a part-time basis before becoming a financial consultant, and was the only member of the three-person independent commission at Everton's disciplinary hearing with day-to-day football experience. Igoe was joined on the panel by David Phillips, a barrister whose company profile says he "advises and litigates in a broad range of commercial matters including professional liability, regulatory, sports-related matters and EU transport regulation, as well as mainstream commercial litigation," and experienced judge His Honour Alan Greenwood.
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire explained the benefit of having someone with financial expertise, on his Price of Football podcast. "If we take a look at the case of Derby County, when it was up before an EFL commission, one of the criticisms levelled at the commission was that there was not somebody with a financial background," Maguire said. "Having expert knowledge, someone such as Nick Igoe on the panel is, in my view, beneficial.
"It could be that a lot of the ultimate penalty and a lot of the ultimate sanction does rotate around some very technical accounting issues. My view is that if you've got two lawyers, you don't need three. If it was something to do with a player, or an incident on the pitch, get the accountant off. But this all relates to financial issues, so therefore having a financial background is a benefit."