Everton have been docked 10 points after a breach of Premier League financial rules

London (AFP) - Everton have been docked 10 points after being found guilty of breaching Premier League financial rules, plunging the club into the relegation zone.

The punishment, the biggest sporting sanction in the Premier League’s history, leaves the Goodison Park club 19th in the table on a total of just four points after 12 matches.

Everton said they were “shocked and disappointed by the ruling”, announcing their intention to appeal.

The Premier League referred the club, who have posted losses for five consecutive years, to an independent commission in March for an alleged breach of its profitability and sustainability rules (PSRs).

Clubs are allowed to lose a maximum £105 million ($130 million) over a three-year period or face sanctions.

The Premier League said in a statement: “The club admitted it was in breach of the PSRs for the period ending season 202122 but the extent of the breach remained in dispute.

“Following a five-day hearing last month, the commission determined that Everton FC’s PSR calculation for the relevant period resulted in a loss of £124.5 million, as contended by the Premier League, which exceeded the threshold of £105 million permitted under the PSRs.

“The commission concluded that a sporting sanction in the form of a 10-point deduction should be imposed. That sanction has immediate effect.”

- ‘Harsh’ punishment’ -

But Everton said the punishment was too harsh.

“The club believes that the commission has imposed a wholly disproportionate and unjust sporting sanction,” the club said in a statement.

“The club has already communicated its intention to appeal the decision to the Premier League.”

The statement added: “Everton maintains that it has been open and transparent in the information it has provided to the Premier League and that it has always respected the integrity of the process.

“The club does not recognise the finding that it failed to act with the utmost good faith and it does not understand this to have been an allegation made by the Premier League during the course of proceedings.

“Both the harshness and severity of the sanction imposed by the commission are neither a fair nor a reasonable reflection of the evidence submitted.”

Everton said they would monitor “with great interest” the decisions made in other cases concerning financial rules.

Premier League champions Manchester City were charged earlier this year with 115 alleged breaches of financial fair play regulations. That case is ongoing.

Only two other clubs have received points deductions in Premier League history.

Middlesbrough were deducted three points for failing to fulfil a fixture against Blackburn during the 199697 season, while in 2010 Portsmouth were deducted nine points after going into administration.

Both clubs were relegated.

Nine-time English champions Everton have been a continuous presence in the top flight since 1954 and have never been relegated from the Premier League but they only avoided the drop by two points last season and have spent years in the shadow of city rivals Liverpool.

Sean Dyche’s side are now level on points with bottom club Burnley on four points after 12 matches – and five points adrift of safety.