£100m legal threat off table amid Everton & Leeds transfer developments

Everton have turned their attentions heavily towards Elland Road this summer in an attempt to boost Sean Dyche’s squad after narrowly escaping relegation.

Willy Gnonto has been the prime target but the Toffees have been linked to no fewer than six Leeds United players during the window as they look to take advantage of the Whites’ relegation to the Championship.

View: £100m legal threat off table amid Everton & Leeds transfer developments

That comes in the context of a report from the Daily Mail on 16 May that suggested the Leeds hierarchy, along with those of fellow candidates for the drop, were so “furious” with the financial situation at Goodison Park they were threatening £300million legal action.

The Premier League’s decision to refer Everton to an independent commission for a single alleged breach of profit and sustainability rules reportedly had Southampton, Leicester, Nottingham Forest and Leeds up in arms and ready to claim £100m each in damages if they went down at the Toffees’ expense, with Burnley also wanting in on the action after being relegated a year earlier.

That threat was dependent on Everton being found against by the commission, where the club have said they will “robustly defend [their] position”, with the hearing now scheduled for 25 October [BBC Sport].

In the end, Dyche managed to lead Everton to safety on the final day as Abdoulaye Doucouré’s strike beat Bournemouth 1-0 (28 May), with Leeds and Leicester therefore joining already-down Southampton in the second tier.

And yet since then the Toffees have attempted to sign Rodrigo from Elland Road, with the striker opting to move instead to Al-Rayyan in Qatar [Alan Myers, 12 July], while entering talks with both Jack Harrison and fellow winger Gnonto [Football Transfers, 18 June].

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A bid of £15m for the Italian teenager was tabled [Mail, 16 June], and contact was also made over midfielder Tyler Adams [Mail, 19 June], while there was further interest in Crysencio Summerville [Telegraph, 20 June].

The £100m threat from Elland Road therefore appears to have been a false alarm since it seems highly unlikely that so much transfer business could even be contemplated were legal action on the cards.

The Toffees’ Premier League survival at the Whites’ expense was supposed to be the very thing that was making the rivals so outraged, amid the suggestions of unfair spending which have been disputed by the club.

If Everton subsequently came out on top and then immediately looked to take advantage of the situation by picking up cheap bits of transfer business while a dispute was still live then the Leeds hierarchy would surely have kicked up a huge fuss.

This being the Toffees they have of course not actually managed to conclude any deals for Leeds players, at least so far, but it surely wouldn’t have even been a possibility if those at Elland Road were fuming already and eyeing the outcome of the October hearing for a chance to get their own back.

Should the commission find against Everton it is sure to be yet another uncomfortable chapter, but at this stage it appears that being sued for nine-figures off the back of it is not the threat it appeared as last season headed for a conclusion.