The Tipping Point: How Points Deduction Alters English Football Club Fates

Updated: 154 Football

Pivotal moments in English football where points deductions swayed club destinies. See how teams grappled with this daunting challenge and the eventual outcomes

The Tipping Point: How Points Deduction Alters English Football Club Fates
In this article: Bournemouth
Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

The dramatic effects of points deduction in English football and its vital role in determining club futures. As Everton faces a staggering 10-point deduction in the Premier League, we delve into historical precedents, analyze the survival odds with bookmakers, and consider the wider impact on the footballing landscape. This article offers a comprehensive assessment packed with data-driven insights that will enlighten the high stakes of financial fair play in the sport.

When Points Drop, So Do Hopes: Unpacking Everton's Premier League Plight

Everton's 10-point shocker 😱🔵⬇️ How do points deductions shape football clubs' destinies? Find out the history and current challenges in our in-depth analysis.

All is not well in the blue half of Merseyside and with Everton being hit with a 10-point deduction in the Premier League., it is fair to say that the Toffees find themselves in something of a sticky situation. 

A sticky situation but not an impossible one either and if there was ever a time for Everton to be hit with a deduction of this magnitude, the current Premier League landscape may still allow them to keep their heads above water.

Even with the penalty that Sean Dyche’s men have been hit with, the club find themselves just two points from safety and considering the struggles that last season’s promoted trio of Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton are facing, Everton supporters will be confident of staying in Premier League.

Everton at the Crossroads: History's Harsh Lessons on Points Deduction 🚦⚖️🔵

A third strike in Premier League history ⚽✂️ Everton faces the ghost of points deductions past - will they follow Portsmouth and Middlesbrough's fate, or beat the odds? We're delving deep into data from '96 to see what history reveals! 📘📊

Then again, a look to the Premier League’s history does not bode all that well and with this being only the third occasion in which there has been a points deduction in the competition, there is a precarious footnote for Everton to deal with.

Both Portsmouth and Middlesbrough have also suffered top tier points deductions, both the Pompey and the ‘Boro subsequently suffered demotions to the level below and this is something that Everton supporters will have to be wary of.

Of course, two previous instances is not really enough to make overriding conclusions and therefore, we are going to cast our data-driven net further out and in doing so, we are going to look at all the Football League points deductions since Middlesbrough’s during the 1996/97 campaign.

While it is a table that looks as follows: 

Season Club League Points Deducted Reason Status Notes
2022/23 Wigan Championship 3 Late Payment Player Wages Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2022/23 Reading Championship 6 Late Payment Player Wages Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2021/22 Reading Championship 6 Breaching Financial Rules Safe  
2021/22 Derby Championship 21 12 Administration, 9 Breaching Financial Rules Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2020/21 Sheffield Wednesday Championship 6 Breaching Financial Fair Play Rules Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2019/20 Wigan Championship 12 Administration Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2019/20 Macclesfield League Two 17 Various Breaches Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2019/20 Bolton League One 12 Administration Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2019/20 Bury League One 12 Administration Expulsion Eventually Insolvent
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(Points Deductions from 1996/97 to the end of the 2022/23 season)

For the purposes of this table, we have not included any 2023/24 deductions as yet, as the season is still ongoing.

In this table, there are no less than 43 occasions where the rulebook has been tested to its limits and points have been shaved of as a consequence. The big question though is what that does to a team’s chances thereafter:

Survival by the Numbers: Everton's Hope Amidst Point Deduction Peril ⚖️💪🔵

History gives hope to the Toffees 📈💙 Of 43 penalized teams, 51.16% managed to stay afloat in their division post-points deduction. The split's tight, but Everton's got precedent on their side! 🥅⚽

Status Count % Split
Relegated 20 46.51%
Safe 22 51.16%
Expulsion 1 2.33%
Total 43 100.00%
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Thankfully the weight of history is further supporting Everton in this instance. Of the 43 teams (not unique as some have been on the naughty step twice), 22 of them have then managed to stay in the same division by the end of the season.

51.16% of the teams involved in the data sample have managed to then stay safe, a further 20 (46.51%) have been relegated to the level below. However, with such a percentage split, it does suggest that things could go either way and no team willingly wants points deducted.

While in the case of Bury, things where even worse for them. Not only where the Gigg Lane outfit hit with a 12-point deduction but they would soon be wound up after failing to prove financial viability for the duration of the 2019/20 season.

What does fate hold in store for Everton - History says they have a slightly better than 50/50 chance of survival in the EPL

Therefore, if we know that 46.51% of our sample have seen clubs relegated in the same season as a points deduction, we need to now look at how much of an effect the removal of points had to a team’s fortunes.

Status Count % Split
Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction 8 40.00%
Relegated Because Of Points Deduction 12 60.00%
Total 20 100.00%
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Here we can see that of the 20 teams that have relegated status attached tot them, 12 of them suffered the drop because of the points deduction and eight would have faced the drop regardless of the additional punishment.

This means, that 12 of the 43 clubs were really hit the worst. A group of 12 that not only were relegated but relegated because of off the field issues. The dirty dozen as it were look like this: 

Season Club League Points Deducted Reason Status Notes
2022/23 Reading Championship 6 Late Payment Player Wages Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2021/22 Derby Championship 21 12 Administration, 9 Breaching Financial Rules Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2020/21 Sheffield Wednesday Championship 6 Breaching Financial Fair Play Rules Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2019/20 Wigan Championship 12 Administration Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2019/20 Macclesfield League Two 17 Various Breaches Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2012/13 Aldershot League Two 10 Administration Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2011/12 Portsmouth Championship 10 Administration Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2010/11 Plymouth League One 10 Administration Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
2008/09 Luton League Two 30 Breach of Insolvency Rules and Misconduct Relegated Relegated Because Of Points Deduction
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A list of crimes that range from Middlesbrough’s unauthorised postponement of fixture against Blackburn during the 1996/97 season to Reading and the late payments that were made regarding player salaries.

If we group together these 12 relegations and the reasonings behind them, we can see what the most reoccurring reason for punishment was:

Steer Clear of Turmoil: How Everton Can Learn From Derby's and Sheffield Wednesday's Financial Failures 🛑📚⚽

Points deductions & administration woes: a tale of 12 clubs 📉🚫. Derby faced the double blow💥, while Everton must tread carefully to avoid following Sheffield Wednesday's missteps from 2020/21. Learn from the past to navigate the financial fair play minefield! ⚽💸

Status Count
Administration 6
Late Payment Player Wages 1
12 Administration, 9 Breaching Financial Rules 1
Breaching Financial Fair Play Rules 1
Various Breaches 1
Breach of Insolvency Rules and Misconduct 1
Unauthorised Postponement Of Fixture 1
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Of this gang of 12, six of them suffered a points deduction because of going into administration. However, Derby went one better (or perhaps worse), as they were hit with the double punishment of administration and breaching financial rules.

Derby got into Double Trouble - Image: Ed6767/wikipedia

While Everton’s legal team may want to keep an eye on the category of ‘Breaching Financial Fair Play Rules’ – only one team has suffered a points deduction and relegation thereafter and the blue half of Merseyside will not be looking to emulate the efforts of Sheffield Wednesday back in 2020/21.

The flipside to this is that we can also look at the eight teams that were relegated regardless of a points deductions and in doing so, we may be able to discover whether there is a common theme for our lost causes.

Financial Fumbles and Fairytale Comebacks in Football 🏟️💸🔄

Wigan's outlier status and Luton's comeback 🌟💔 From points lost to relegations due to administration, football has its ups and downs. See how some clubs bounced back despite the odds!

Season Club League Points Deducted Reason Status Notes
2022/23 Wigan Championship 3 Late Payment Player Wages Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2019/20 Bolton League One 12 Administration Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2009/10 Portsmouth Premier League 9 Administration Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2007/08 Luton League One 10 Administration Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2006/07 Leeds Championship 10 Administration Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2006/07 Rotherham League One 10 Administration Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2006/07 Boston League Two 10 Administration Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
2004/05 Cambridge League Two 10 Administration Relegated Relegated Regardless Of Points Deduction
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As we can see here, the only outlier in this gang of eight are Wigan and their relegation from the Championship at the end of last season. Even with three points deducted because of late payments to players, it was immaterial by the time the 2022/23 season had concluded.

While the common theme for the other seven clubs is administration. A sign that when your down you are almost soon to be going down thereafter and it does not matter what level you are at, the footballing reaper is ready to collect you.

Portsmouth took it bad, succeeding in consecutive relegations to the bottom tier Image: Rob Atherton/shutterstock

Portsmouth were the first team to ever suffer an administration deduction in the Premier League but when you consider how bad their season was at Fratton Park, even the restoration of nine points would have made little difference.

At the same time, you only have to look at the previous financial woes of Luton as a measure of how a club can turn things around. During the 2007/08 season they were hit with a 10-point administration punishment, 15 years later and they had earned promotion to the Premier League.

Luton have come all the way back - a success story that took a little time - Image: LTFC Wellingborough, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Which brings us on to the next point and we can also see what levels are handing out the most point deductions. If we look at the top four levels of the English game, the split is as follows:

League

Count

Status

Premier League

2

4.65%

Championship

12

27.91%

League One

13

30.23%

League Two

16

37.21%

Total

43

100.00%


Unsurprisingly it is the bottom two tiers that have been hit the most when it comes to points deductions. Of the 43 instance, 29 of them have comprised of outfits that either reside in League One or League Two.

However, the 12 Championship teams that have also been in before those that govern the game are arguably the biggest tale of woe. As clubs look to reach the promised land of the Premier League, they are more than ready to sell the family silver in order to do so.

Reaching for the sky and then ending in the financial gutter is a story that has been read too many times within the English game and although the list is currently at 12, it is list that is more than ready to add new members to it.

Everton Points Deduction 2023/24

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Premier League Relegation Betting Odds: Everton shorten into 2/1 to be relegated this season following their 10 POINT DEDUCTION by the Premier League!

While that same reaching for the sky is the exact same thing that has got Everton into the current financial mess it finds itself and their points deduction has sent a real shockwave through the Premier League as a whole.

Whereas teams in the Championship would go for broke and usually end up broke because of it, their bids to reach the Premier League could prove very costly. Now, the cost is simply staying in the Premier League itself.

Everton’s punishment was dished out after an independent panel deemed the club to have earned a significant competitive advantage from their overspend. That competitive advantage has extended to them being a Premier League entity and nothing more.

When you consider the financial outlay that has taken place under the watch of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and the league placings that it has then generated, you could easily argue that there has been nothing in the way of competitive advantage at all.

If anything, this is a club that has gone backwards and only because their books are unbalanced are they even capable of still being classed as a team that operates within the elite confines of the English game.

Which must be considered a huge warning sign to their Premier League counterparts and if a club with the history and stature of Everton can find themselves swimming against the tide, it could just as easily happen to many other outfits.

Bournemouth's Great Escape

Bournemouth Achieved the Greatest Escape of all after a 17 point deduction under the leadership of a certain Eddie Howe.

Then again, it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to points deductions and to finish on a lighter note, we need to focus on the story of Bournemouth and their 17-point punishment during the League Two 2008/09 season.

Faced with a huge deficit and looking likely to soon fall out of the fourth tier, the Cherries turned to an unassuming ex-player. The man in question was a certain Eddie Howe and that man would go on to complete one of the greatest escapes of all.

Because this was not only a team that survived by the skin of their teeth, but they did so with some flourish and even with a 17-point deduction, the South Coast outfit still managed to stay up by nine points.

Not only that, but it allowed Howe the ideal environment to cut his managerial teeth and create a huge legacy with the seaside club. A legacy that will not be forgotten by any Bournemouth fan and of course, that same man is now in charge of one of the richest clubs in the world – Newcastle United.

Author information

Dan Tracey has carved a remarkable path as a versatile writer, data analyst, and podcaster throughout his six-year journey in the sports data industry. His impressive portfolio includes contributions to UEFA's annual technical reports and crafting informed content for sports betting sites like TheLinesUS and Goal. With a talent for voice broadcasting, Dan offers thought-provoking commentary on podcasts and shares weekly betting insights. Currently collaborating with OLBG.com, Dan's presence is a testament to his skill in turning complex data into compelling narratives. Wherever there's data to decipher, Dan's analytical acumen is often at play. The article was edited and Published by Steve Madgwick

Data Sources

https://www.footballsite.co.uk/DYK/DYK29-PointsDeductions.htm

Data Correct as of 20th Nov

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