Everton have been charged with breaking the Premier League‘s financial fair play rules.

The Premier League have referred the club to an independent commission after an investigation into the 2021-22 season, when the club posted a £120m loss. That took their combined loss over three years to £371.8m – far above the permitted losses under the league’s profitability and sustainability rules of £105m.

At the time the accounts were published Everton had argued that much of that was due to Covid and said they had worked with the Premier League to ensure their compliance. They denied any wrongdoing.

But the league confirmed the charge on Friday afternoon, which came 10 months after Leeds and Burnley jointly wrote to the Premier League to question whether relegation rivals Everton had broken the rules.

The club face the prospect of a points deduction, fines, a forced wage cap or a transfer embargo if they are found guilty. Unlike in the EFL, there is no set tariff for breaches of financial fair play rules and it’s unclear whether punishments would apply to this or last season.

A source told i that the level of the punishment would likely depend on the severity of the breach if the Premier League’s charges are proven.

A Premier League statement confirmed a breach of rule W82.1 and said a panel would be convened in secret. They did not set out a timescale for the hearing.

“In accordance with Premier League Rule W.82.1, the Premier League confirms that it has today referred an alleged breach of the League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules by Everton Football Club to a Commission under Premier League Rule W.3.4,” a statement said.

“The assessment period for which it is alleged that the Club is in breach is the period ending Season 2021-22.

“The proceedings before the Commission will, in accordance with Premier League Rule W.82, be confidential and heard in private. Under Premier League Rule W.82.2, the Commission’s final award will be published on the Premier League’s website. The League will be making no further comment until that time.”

Everton released a statement strongly contesting the charges, which read: “Everton Football Club is disappointed to hear of the Premier League’s decision to refer an allegation of a breach of Profit & Sustainability regulations to an independent commission for review.

“The club strongly contests the allegation of non-compliance and together with its independent team of experts is entirely confident that it remains compliant with all financial rules and regulations.

“Everton is prepared to robustly defend its position to the commission. The club has, over several years, provided information to the Premier League in an open and transparent manner and has consciously chosen to act with the utmost good faith at all times.

“The club will not be making any further comment at this time.”

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