In this final matchup, 4-seed Crystal Palace is going against 5-seed Everton. First, a tale of the tape (most information from this wonderful post):
Nickname: The Eagles
Team Colors: Red / Blue
Kit Manufacturer: Puma (since 2018)
Primary Kit Sponsor: ManBetX
Ground: Selhurst Park (capacity 26,309)
Manager: Roy Hodgson (since 2017)
Nickname: The Toffees
Founded: 1878 (as St. Domingo Football Club)
Team Colors: Royal Blue / White
Kit Manufacturer: Umbro (since 2018)
Primary Kit Sponsor: SportPesa
Ground: Goodison Park (capacity 39,572)
Manager: Marco Silva (since 2018)
Based on their seeds from my highly scientific methods, this should be the most competitive race. Both teams had their fair share of presence near the top of my individual metrics. Crystal Palace, had the third smallest stadium and market value, which helped keep them in the top half of the bracket. Meanwhile, Everton had the most titles of my eight finalist, winning nine titles overall, though none since 1987, as well as the second highest placement during the 2017-18 season. Their overall weighted score only saw a 0.02 point difference, so this is as close to a toss-up in that regard as any of the other quarterfinal matchups.
Unfortunately for Crystal Palace, they fail to compete well with Everton on an overall basis. Those nine Everton titles at the top level are joined by another second tier title (back in 1931), five FA Cups, and even a victory in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985, a tournament which saw the victors of major European leagues face off. Crystal Palace, on the other hand, has never won a title at the top tier of English football, though they do have two titles in tier 2 and one title in tier three, and have not had much success in European competition.
Beyond titles, Everton also trumps Crystal Palace in appearances in the top flight of English football. Everton is one of six clubs to have been in the Premier League since it began in 1992, and while they have never won, they have averaged a mid-table finish over the past 26 years. They’ve also spent 116 total seasons – of their 130 total – in the top tier of English football, the most of any English football club. Crystal Palace, on the other hand, is currently on its longest consecutive season run in the Premier League – this will be their 6th consecutive season – and they have only spend a total of 19 seasons in the top tier. Everton is football royalty; Crystal Palace is still kind of an upstart.
Both clubs play in older stadiums (with modern upgrades), and Everton’s Goodison Park has been in use by the club since 1898. Selhurt Park, Crystal Palace’s home since 1924, is a little smaller in capacity, but that could also result in a better fan experience at the park. Compared to the cavernous stadiums in America, English football stadiums tend to be smaller, and try to enhance the experience of actually viewing the action on the field and not spending your time starting at your phone.
What truly separates the clubs is finances, however. While Crystal Palace has spent the second most money on transfers since 2014, they have also had issues with profitability, and were even threatened with being “rolled up” when they failed to submit their required financial documents on time earlier this year. They eventually showed only $15.6M in profits, and have spent just over $233M pounds on transfers over the past six years, though they have yet to spend anything this year. Everton, on the other hand, earned just over $39M is profit for the year ending June 2017, and has spent a relatively modest (in comparison) $200M on transfers during the same period.
Crystal Palace is owned mostly by two Americans with a private equity background, as well as stakes in some American sports teams. Josh Harris owns 18% of Crystal Palace, as well as majority stakes in the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. His partner, David Blitzer, owns the same 18% stake in Crystal Palace and minority stakes in the other two teams. Maybe dividing their attention led them to be late in their financial filings? I guess we’ll never know.
Everton, on the other hand, seems to be a bit more stable, with Iranian businessman Ardavan Moshiri – a former minority owner of Arsenal – in control of the club with a nearly 60% stake. Stability is important for clubs looking to compete with the “Big Six,” and Everton definitely appears to be more stable in that regard.
Everton’s history, and the financial troubles of Crystal Palace, make Everton the clear winner in this matchup. The Toffees should continue to compete for a top-half finish in the Premier League table, and may even be able to compete for continental competitions should a few draws turn into wins and a few losses turn into draws. They were only five points behind Burnley for 7th place last year, and moving up a couple of spots could have landed them a spot in the Europa League qualifying.
With Everton’s victory, my final four is set! This is what the matchups will look like for Monday:
2) AFC Bournemouth v. 8) West Ham United
3) Leicester City v. 5) Everton
Will the lower seeds match their 0.500 record in the semifinals? I guess we’ll soon find out.
Until next time…