Everton have been handed a -10 point penalty for breaching the Premier League’s financial rules, which looks odd to say the least against the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea. There is growing talk on the Island that both Londoners and “citizens” are also close to taking some pretty serious punishments, but only time can tell if anything like that will happen.
Until that moment comes – we take a look at the most serious point deductions in the history of English football.
It all started at the end of the 19th century, when Sunderland got the first such punishment. In the 1890/1891 season, the “black cats” were deprived of two points from their asset, as the reason for this were problems with the registration of players. Two points are nothing. – in fact, we’re talking about double and triple the number of hits on given teams that broke the rules.
It was 133 years ago that Scotland international Ned Doig played for Sunderland but was uncapped within seven days of his arrival and is effectively still listed as a Blackburn player. The two points taken away cost the team two places in the final ranking – instead of fifth, they go to seventh.
Fast-forward a century, in 1990 Swindon Town won the play-off final at Wembley 1-0 against… Sunderland. But he never got the opportunity to play in the First Division (then the highest level of English football). Ten days after the big triumph, the joy was dashed when it was reported that Swindon were guilty of a total of 35 cases of irregular payments to players. And so promotion fell into the hands of Sunderland, and Town were initially even relegated to the third division, but on appeal kept their place in the second.
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We remain in the wave of the 90s, as in the 1990/1991 season Arsenal and Manchester United suffered, albeit with minimal consequences. Two points were taken from the “gunners” and one from the “red devils” after within 30 seconds during the derby between them, the teams formed a melee. It involves 21 of the total 22 players on the field, and the Football Association comes to this decision. The two missing points do not stop the capital city on the way to the title, but remain in the history of penalties. The infamous derby was played at Old Trafford on December 20, 1990.
Middlesbrough were deprived of three points in the 1996/1997 season after canceling their visit to Blackburn on 21 December 1996. Boro announce that they do not have enough players due to a virus circulating in their squad. This action of theirs played a bad joke on them at the end of the season when they were relegated for… two points.
So far everything seems perfectly fine and there are no outrageous penalties, but don’t worry. Now it’s their turn.
We start with the 2007/2008 season and Leeds United, where nowadays there is a Bulgarian presence in the person of Iliya Gruev Jr. Yorkshiremen at the time were torn by severe administrative and financial problems. For the second time in the last decade, the team entered administration (after 2003/2004), and the impossibility of reaching an agreement with their creditors led to the withdrawal of a total of 15 points from the club’s assets. This comes just six years after United played in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
In the following campaign – 2008/2009, three different teams in England had the fate of Leeds and were put into administration. Bournemouth and Rotherham are each on -17 and Darlington on -10.
The biggest points deduction in the history of English football also dates from the same season. Luton, today a member of the Premier League, but at the time far from the elite of the country, was forgiven with a total of 30 points. The Football League has taken away 20 of them because of problems related to administration and creditors, and a further 10 have been taken from them by the FA because of financial uncertainties surrounding the team’s transfers. Thus, for the first time in 89 years, Luton was relegated from the English Football League (the first four professional divisions in the country).
2009/2010. Portsmouth, where years ago we watched Svetoslav Todorov and he became the top scorer of the Championship, receives a blow of 9 points. Again because of severe financial problems, the inability to pay his players for months and three changes of ownership before the month of February. On March 17, 2010, Pompey was officially deprived of 9 points from their asset, and this predetermines their fate – relegation from the Premier League.
The two most recent such penalties date back to 2019/2020 and 2021/2022.
The first case involved Berry, at the time in League One (the third division of English football). Insolvency resulted in a total of 12 points being deducted for the club, early in the season (July) and in August they were kicked out of the League. Something that last happened at Maidstone in 1992.
Derby County, then with Wayne Rooney as manager, went into administration in September 2021 and were handed a 12-point penalty. Which sends them automatically into the battle for survival in the Championship. Just two months later comes another sanction, this time of 9 points due to financial irregularities by the now former owner Mel Morris.
So effectively those 21 points cost County their place in the second division and they are relegated at the end of the season.
Whether Everton will have a similar fate – only time will tell. The ten points deducted sent them to penultimate nineteenth place in the standings. Their asset is already 4, but the situation does not look so hopeless.
12 rounds of the season have passed and the first team above the relegation zone, Luton, have just two more than the Merseysiders.