Everton has slipped into the relegation zone of the Premier League with just six league games remaining. Defeat to city rivals Liverpool and Burnley’s impressive 1-0 home win over Wolves saw the Toffees fall into the 18th spot. From a defensive perspective, Everton is very much in relegation form. According to George Gamble, who provides weekly football analysis and predictions to football enthusiasts and punters, Everton had conceded a minimum of two goals in their previous six away league games prior to the recent Merseyside derby at Liverpool. Although the Toffees defended stoutly against the red half of Liverpool, Frank Lampard’s men eventually succumbed to a 2-0 loss, making it seven straight road games with two or more goals shipped.
As the 2021/22 Premier League campaign enters the final furlong, the prospect of Everton falling through the relegation trap door of the top flight for the first time in the Premier League’s history is becoming ever more real. Although boss Frank Lampard spoke of his pride in the team’s “work ethic” against Jurgen Klopp’s title chasers, the harsh fact remains that the toothless Toffees aren’t scoring enough in the final third and lack a dependable backbone. Both of which are a recipe for the Premier League disaster.
Clubs as big as Everton have fallen into the EFL Championship in the past. The likes of Leeds United, Manchester City and Newcastle United have had to drop down into the Football League to rebuild in the last couple of decades. Relegation does not discriminate – if Everton is one of the three worst-performing sides in the Premier League they will be relegated, regardless of their history or attendance. Should the worst happen, and Everton drop into the second tier of English football, what can we expect to happen at Goodison Park this summer?
The long-term future of Frank Lampard will be in question
Frank Lampard may have only arrived at Goodison Park midway through the 2021/22 campaign, but already there is growing speculation that his future could be in jeopardy. Freelance journalist Pete O’Rourke has intimated that although he would be surprised to see Everton dispense with Lampard before the end of the season, his inability to steady the ship and maintain the club’s Premier League status would almost certainly cost him his job.
Reports have suggested that the club would be forced to cut its cloth by up to £50 million in the event of relegation, just to avoid Financial Fair Play (FFP) penalties. With Lampard’s base salary said to weigh in at £5m a year, that’s £10m that the club could potentially do away with given that he has two years left on his deal at the end of this season. Of course, the Toffees would then have to find a cost-effective replacement, but a short-term appointment with promotion-winning experience from the second tier would surely suffice before looking too far into the future.
A mass sell-off of the Toffees’ ‘crown jewels’
In the last financial year, Everton’s books stated a rise of player wages from £165m per annum to £183m per annum. The club has also frittered away over £100m in three successive seasons. The other issue that Everton’s hierarchy has is the lack of relegation clauses in the contracts of their star players. Senior first-team stars would still be able to command their current Premier League salary in the event of relegation to the Championship.
Although the club may not be keen on a fire sale, it’s almost certain that some of their biggest names would be moved on in the summer. Goalkeeper and England number one Jordan Pickford is earning over £100,000 a week and will be keen to retain his Premier League status to remain in Gareth Southgate’s selection thoughts. In addition, Brazilian playmaker Richarlison is another earning a six-figure weekly wage who is unlikely to want to play in the Championship.
Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is also highly unlikely to remain if he has aspirations to retain his place in the England squad. Calvert-Lewin could be one of the club’s most sellable assets given that his current deal does not expire until 2025. Midfielder Dele Alli may be ushered out of the back door within a matter of months of signing at Goodison Park. The Toffees are contractually obliged to pay an additional £10m to Tottenham when Alli plays his 20th game for the club. Kieran Maguire, influential football finance analyst and lecturer at Liverpool University, said that his “fairly rough estimate” of the average weekly wage at Everton stood at £85,000 a week.
The one saving grace for the Toffees is that players do not need to be sold solely to fund their new Bramley Moore Dock stadium, which has already been financed independently from the club’s day-to-day coffers.
A root-and-branch review of the club’s operations
Most of the Everton faithful still find themselves scratching their heads as to how the team finds itself in its current predicament. In 2019, the club’s chief executive Denis Barrett-Baxendale revealed it had set an ambitious target to win its first Premier League and become competitive in the UEFA Champions League. The harsh reality is that the Toffees now find themselves as far away from those goals as ever before – despite the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on the playing staff.
Dutchman Marcel Brands was recruited as the club’s new director of football in 2018, replacing the outgoing Steve Walsh who was fired by Barrett-Baxendale shortly after former manager Sam Allardyce was axed. However, Brands was heavily criticised for the scattergun approach to recruitment in the intervening years, paying heavily over the odds for the likes of Alex Iwobi from Arsenal. Brands’ poor performance eventually saw him relieved of his duties in December 2021, before the appointment of Lampard to replace Rafael Benitez.
The club’s owner, Farhad Moshiri, must use this summer to take a step back and understand where it’s all gone wrong. How a man with such immense personal wealth can lose so much money in such a short space of time suggests that he may have placed his faith in the wrong people.
By Kyle Serpa
Bio: Kyle is a traveler, foodie, and football enthusiast. #footie4life