Leeds and Burnley threaten legal action over Everton finances as the drop looms

Burnley and Leeds have called on the Premier League to investigate concerns Everton have breached FFP rules.

Both clubs have joined forces and written to league bosses demanding an independent commission is formed within six weeks to look into the spiralling debts at Goodison Park. The news comes less than 24 hours after Frank Lampard's side secured top-flight survival with a stunning 3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Goodson Park.

The Clarets and Leeds will now have to better the other one's result on the final day of the season to beat the drop. But it is understood both clubs contacted the Premier League last Friday, 48 hours before the Toffees lost at home to Brentford, and insists the move is not "sour grapes" on their part.

An Everton spokesman is quoted as saying: “We have worked so closely with the Premier League to make sure we are compliant we are comfortable we have complied with the rules. External auditors have told us what we can and cannot claim against the pandemic. If they want to take legal action then they can do so by all means.”

Both the Clarets and Leeds have threatened to bring a claim for substantial damages against both the League and the Toffees. The top-flight rivals believe the Toffees have breached spending rules and have benefited from an unfair advantage, which has gone unpunished. The duo are now demanding action be taken against the Merseyside club, in the form of an official investigation and applicable sanctions should they be found guilty.

The Toffees have recorded losses of £371.8m since 2019 – but Premier League rules state clubs cannot lose more than £105m over a three year period. Sanctions include a possible points deduction for serious breaches of the rules.

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However, clubs have been allowed to write losses off because of the pandemic. In Everton's latest accounts, they said £170m of their losses was caused by the pandemic.

The Toffees issued a statement in March insisting it had held dialogue with league bosses about the club's debts which said: "The club has been working formally with the Premier League regarding its ongoing compliance with Profitability & Sustainability regulations."

The cost of relegation to both the Clarets and Leeds is expected to be in excess of £70m. Both clubs are level on points heading into the final round of games, with the Clarets hosting Newcastle and Leeds travelling to Brentford.

While Leeds and Burnley scrap it out to stay up Lampard admits the pressure is completely off Everton ahead of the trip to Arsenal. Lampard said: "I will relax more and I don't mean that in a light-hearted way because I understand Arsenal and Tottenham are in a battle and we'll go and do our absolute best to approach the game in the right way. At the same time, we've not had that luxury – others have and we saw that playing against Brentford and then again against Palace in the first half. There's something nice about 'relaxing'.

"Since my first day here we've not had chance to do that and maybe that's the Premier League, but our situation also added to that. It'll be nice for the players to have that feeling. A couple of players who maybe haven't had opportunities will get opportunities, but we'll be going full pelt to try to get the right result." Lampard also acknowledged he has begun to think about Everton's plans for the summer with one eye on recruitment.

He added: "I've been thinking about [the longer-term], obviously it's been second in the list of priorities because we had to get this done – but now we'll continue to think about that because we want to take the club forward. It has to improve. We have to improve. I have to. I have to get to work in pre-season and have a pre-season with the players, myself and the staff will have chance to do that work now. We'll look at how we can work with the players]which is the first thing, then, about how we can add to improve.

"Can we make the squad stronger and more balanced? I believe we can. It's important we look at it that way – and it's important we look at it quickly. We don't want to be here next year but we understand if we don't make positive moves then it's possible, so we'll be ready to move on that quickly. If we want to start playing a bit better between the lines, then it starts from the back and we'll look at all the things through the middle of the pitch."

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