Copy of 2023-05-26T135401Z_1636514689_RC2D61AXTWUP_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-RELEGATION-1685181019511
A combination picture shows Leeds United manager Sam Allardyce, Everton manager Sean Dyche, Leicester City manager Dean Smith and football fans from their respective clubs, as only one team will avoid relegation from the Premier League on Sunday. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: The English Premier League season has been thrilling, and the final day promises to be full of drama, particularly at the bottom of the league.

Manchester City have already been crowned champions, while Arsenal, Manchester United, and Newcastle have secured their spots in the Champions League.

Liverpool and Brighton will finish fifth and sixth, respectively, earning them places in the Europa League while the race for the final European spot, the Europa Conference League, is still wide open, with Aston Villa, Tottenham, and Brentford all vying for the opportunity.

But it is at the bottom of the table where the excitement truly intensifies, as three giants of English football — Everton, Leicester, and Leeds — find themselves in danger of relegation.

Chance to survive

Mathematically, each club still has a chance to survive the drop, depending on the results on the final day. Unfortunately, two of them will go down as the battle for survival goes down to the wire. Only two points separate them, with Southampton already down. On Sunday, Everton will host Bournemouth, Leicester will welcome West Ham, and Leeds will face Tottenham at Elland Road.

You have to wonder how Everton, one of England’s biggest clubs with the second-longest continuous presence in the top-flight football, currently ranked third in all-time points, and with an impressive trophy haul, find themselves in this predicament. Some point fingers at Farhad Moshiri, their billionaire owner. Since his acquisition of the club seven years ago, he has made a series of erratic and ill-judged decisions. Poor recruitment, mismanagement, and a lack of coherent strategy is an unfortunate hallmark of the Moshiri era. While the British-born Iranian’s generosity cannot be denied, with approximately £700 million spent on transfers and a new stadium being constructed at Bramley Moore dock, his spending has lacked a clear plan and patience. Everton have seen a revolving door of managers, with Sean Dyche being the eighth permanent manager in seven years, along with three directors of football. The club has also suffered substantial financial losses, which have inevitably caught up with them. Starting the season without an established goalscorer, compounded by the failure to make a signing in January, Everton are now paying the price for these grievous errors.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri.

The impact of relegation would be significant for the Toffees. Moshiri has signed an exclusivity agreement with the American investment firm MSP Sports Capital in his search for funds to complete the new stadium on the banks of the River Mersey. However, the likelihood of proceeding with a deal for a club in the Championship, at least under Moshiri’s current terms, remains uncertain. Relegation would bring even greater repercussions. Everton have reported combined losses of £305.5 million over the past three financial years and are currently under investigation for an alleged breach of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules, which the club denies. Additionally, the club owes £150 million to Rights & Media Funding Limited. Everton’s auditors express significant doubts about the club’s ability to continue as a going concern if relegation were to occur. This would likely lead to a fire sale of key players, such as Jordan Pickford and Amadou Onana, followed by a potentially catastrophic financial downturn.

Leicester are also facing a precarious situation. If they were to be relegated, they would likely lose the ability to attract the likes of Graham Potter. In such a scenario, interim manager Dean Smith could be considered a sensible permanent appointment. The squad would face significant wage cuts, potentially up to 50%. Furthermore, high-earning players like James Maddison and Harvey Barnes are expected to depart regardless of Leicester’s fate, and key players like Jonny Evans, Youri Tielemans, and Caglar Soyuncu are currently out of contract.

Wage cuts

If Leeds went down, the long-anticipated full takeover by San Francisco-based 49er Enterprises would be in jeopardy. It would trigger the activation of relegation clauses for many players, resulting in wage cuts of 60%. Key individuals such as Illan Meslier, Robin Koch, and Luis Sinisterra would likely be sold. Although Leeds have expressed a desire to retain players like Tyler Adams and Wilfried Gnonto, the US midfielder is highly regarded by Newcastle, and the Italian forward is coveted by numerous clubs.

Relegation represents the harshest reality in the world of football. Clubs not only suffer the shame of demotion but they also face a massive blow to their commercial revenue. However, the ultimate nightmare lies in the possibility of administration, which can have devastating consequences. The financial toll of dropping from the Premier League alone is estimated to be around £100 million, and that is in the most favourable circumstances. In the worst-case scenario, it could jeopardize the very survival of a club.