Everton Saved Its Premier League Status. But for How Long?

The significance of that cannot be underestimated. If the Premier League cannot wrangle its teams to abide by the rules that they themselves have established, then it does not so much have a regulatory issue as a legitimacy one. Sports are, in effect, policed by consent. If that process is seen to be tainted, if the playing field does not appear to be level, then that consent is removed.

More important, those who watch the league — the people who follow it, fund it, afford it a significance that is not inherent — cannot trust that what they are watching has any meaning. If the outcome of a game cannot be known until a legal process has been exhausted, then the game itself becomes secondary.

Just after Doucouré’s goal, as Goodison Park was fizzing and bouncing and melting in euphoria, a fusillade of fireworks exploded in the sky just above the Gwladys Street Stand. They produced, in truth, more sound than light: Their sparkle and their shimmer was lost, just a little, against the bright sunlight.

Still, each thud elicited a cathartic, ecstatic roar from the crowd, each one signaling a step closer to salvation. The display felt, though, a little premature. There was still a half-hour left in the game. All Bournemouth had to do was score and, with Leicester winning, everything would change.

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