The history of points deductions in the Premier League

Points deductions are a rare occurrence in the Premier League, but three teams have found themselves hit with such a serious punishment since the division was founded in 1992.

Everton became the latest side to meet such a fate when they were found to have recorded excessive losses, becoming the first team to fall foul of the division’s Financial Fair Play rules.

Here’s a look back at the history of points deductions in the Premier League.

Middlesbrough – 3 points (January 1997)

Boro cancelled a fixture without permission

Middlesbrough became the first team in Premier League history to receive a points deduction when league officials took three points from them in January 1997.

Boro had failed to turn up for a game against relegation rivals Blackburn Rovers in December after manager Bryan Robson claimed he was without a whopping 23 players due to illness or injury and therefore unable to name a full squad.

Despite claiming to have received assurances from the Premier League that they could postpone the fixture, Boro failed to provide the required proof and were hit with a £50,000 fine and docked three points. A court appeal against the decision later failed.

The decision would ultimate relegate Boro, who finished 19th in the table, two points adrift of safety.

Portsmouth – 9 points (March 2010)

Portsmouth entered administration

It would be another 13 years until another Premier League side were hit with a points deduction, with Portsmouth the unfortunate recipients in March 2010.

Rumours emerged as early as the 2008/09 season suggesting Pompey were facing major debts after some reckless transfer business, and after no investment while a proposed takeover took over 12 months to complete, Portsmouth were struggling.

The takeover, by Saudi Arabian businessman Ali Al-Faraj, was supposed to solve all Portsmouth’s problems but the club soon failed to pay any wages between December 2009 and February 2010, all while receiving a winding up order over unpaid taxes.

As they entered administration, Portsmouth were automatically docked nine points, leaving them rock bottom of the table.

Everton – 10 points (November 2023)

Everton were docked 10 points 

Fast-forward another 13 years and Everton added their name to the list of Premier League sides to receive a points punishment, with their 10-point deduction the biggest in league history.

Burnley and Leeds United both wrote to the Premier League to request an investigation into Everton’s finances in May 2022 after the Toffees recorded losses of £371.8m over the three previous years. The tension arose because of the relegation battle at the end of the 2021/22 campaign, which Everton and Leeds only narrowly survived.

That investigation was opened in March 2023 and the 10-point punishment followed in November.

West Ham’s controversial fine (April 2007)

West Ham nearly landed in hot water

West Ham United controversially avoided a points deduction in April 2007 over their deals to sign Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano the previous summer.

The Hammers were found to have breached regulations relating to third-party ownership when it came to the two transfers and, considering the players were technically ineligible for the Premier League as a result, they were expected to face a points deduction.

Instead, West Ham were hit with a £5.5m fine – a punishment which was gleefully accepted as they eventually avoided relegation by three points. To add to the drama, Tevez helped West Ham beat Manchester United on the final day of the season which secured their safety.

Sheffield United, who were relegated that year in their place, sued West Ham to try and reclaim their place in the top flight, but after seeing such a plea dismissed, chased financial compensation for relegation and were ultimately successful, agreeing to a £20m settlement with the Hammers to close the case in 2009.