Everton Pts 33 (GD -24), Bournemouth (h)
Why are they in this mess? Farhad Moshiri, Everton’s billionaire owner, has made a succession of erratic and ill-judged decisions since buying into the club seven years ago, starting with retaining members of a board that had failed to keep pace with its competitors. Everton’s descent has since accelerated with dreadful recruitment, mismanagement and incoherent strategy hallmarks of the Moshiri era. The owner’s generosity cannot be faulted – about £700m has been spent on transfers and the interminable stadium problem has almost been resolved, with an impressive new home under construction at Bramley Moore dock – but he has spent without a plan or patience. Sean Dyche is Everton’s eighth permanent manager in seven years, there have been three directors of football and huge financial losses have inevitably caught up with them. The club went into the season without an established goalscorer – with Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured and Richarlison sold – and compounded that grievous error by failing to make a January signing. They have paid a price that everyone else saw coming.
What impact would relegation have? Moshiri has signed an exclusivity agreement with the American investment firm MSP Sports Capital in his search for funds to complete Everton’s new stadium on the banks of the River Mersey. Whether it would proceed with a deal for a club in the Championship, at least on Moshiri’s current terms, is open to question. Yet relegation would bring even greater repercussions. Everton have posted combined losses for the past three financial years of £305.5m and are under investigation for an alleged breach of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules, which they deny. The club also owes £150m to Rights & Media Funding Limited. Its “ability to continue as a going concern” will be in “significant doubt” in the event of relegation, according to Everton’s own auditors. There would be a fire sale of playing assets such as Jordan Pickford and Amadou Onana, followed by a potentially catastrophic financial downturn. AH
Leicester Pts 31 (GD -18),
West Ham (h)
Why are they in this mess? Until Monday at St James’ Park Leicester were the only team in Europe’s top five leagues to not have recorded a clean sheet since November. That statistic is indicative of a major factor in their slide – the porousness of their defence – but there are others. Brendan Rodgers gave Danny Ward the chance to establish himself as a first-choice Premier League goalkeeper after Kasper Schmeichel’s departure but Ward struggled and his replacement, Daniel Iversen, has also been unconvincing. Last summer’s failure to reinvigorate the squad because of financial constraints meant they were left behind by rivals and too many important players, such as Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy, have not hit previous heights. Poor recruitment in the last few windows has also caught up with them. This summer will see a huge turnover of players regardless of the division they are playing in next season.
What impact would relegation have? Leicester would likely lose the ability to attract a favoured manager such as Graham Potter and so the interim manager, Dean Smith, could be regarded as a sensible permanent appointment. The squad would have their wages slashed by up to 50% but high earners such as James Maddison and Harvey Barnes are set to depart regardless of whether Leicester stay up, and players such as the club captain Jonny Evans, midfielder Youri Tielemans and defender Caglar Soyuncu are out of contract. Leicester reported a club-record pre-tax loss of £92.5m for 2021-22 but much of that was owing to the failure to sell an asset for significant profit in the way they previously sold Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell and Harry Maguire. The commitment of Leicester’s owner, King Power International Group, to the club – and community – cannot be doubted. In February Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, the chairman, wiped out £194m of debt. BF
Leeds Pts 31 (GD -27), Tottenham (h)
Why are they in this mess? A fixation with philosophy; namely the high-energy pressing game introduced under Marcelo Bielsa. The obsession with sticking to Bielsa’s system – or at least a version of it – prompted the former director of football Victor Orta to replace the Argentinian with Jesse Marsch last year. The only problem was that Marsch’s love of pressing was not matched by his ability to win Premier League matches. Leeds, though, delayed sacking the American until February and Javi Gracia, his extremely interim successor, struggled to turn things round before Sam Allardyce’s installation for the concluding four games. If neither Gracia nor, especially, Allardyce has had enough time to repair one of the league’s most porous defences, the club’s decision to make the inexperienced French forward Georginio Rutter their record £35m signing in January remains extremely puzzling. He may be promising but he is far from ready for first-team English top-tier football. That money could have been much better spent.
What impact would relegation have? The long-mooted full takeover by the San Francisco-based 49er Enterprises would be in jeopardy. Although, in principle, some – although not all – investors in the 49er Enterprises group remain keen to buy in the event of relegation, they would want Leeds for about £150m rather than the £400m agreed with the majority owner, Andrea Radrizzani. There are doubts as to whether a satisfactory compromise could be reached. Should the takeover fall through, the much-needed redevelopment of the extremely dated Elland Road would again be on the back burner. If it helps that many players have relegation clauses involving 60% wage cuts in the event of relegation, some key personnel including Illan Meslier, Robin Koch and Luis Sinisterra would almost certainly be sold. Although Leeds have indicated a desire to keep Tyler Adams and Wilfried Gnonto, the US midfielder is much admired by Newcastle and the Italy forward is widely coveted. Championship football may limit the choice of a longer-term manager and possibly deter boardroom favourites, notably Rodgers and Potter. LT