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LONDON, England -- Premier League chiefs are set to investigate an "arrangement" between Manchester United and Everton which left goalkeeper Tim Howard on the sidelines for their clash at Goodison Park.
League leaders United came back from a two-goal deficit to win last week's match 4-2, thus stretching their lead over defending champions Chelsea and boosting their bid for the league title.
Howard, whom United sold to Everton in February after an initial loan deal, did not play in last month's match and it was later revealed by the Merseyside outfit that an "arrangement" had been made between the clubs to that effect.
According to reports in the Mail on Sunday and the News of the World Premier League bosses have indicated that if 'third party interference' is proven both clubs could be sanctioned, possibly with points deductions or fines.
Premier League spokesman Dan Johnson said: "We will be contacting both clubs as a matter of urgency to find out what has gone on.
"As Howard's is a permanent transfer there is no reason why he could not have played against Manchester United.
"Had such a clause been included in the transfer we would not have allowed it - it would have been a clear case of third party interference.
"We certainly have no record of an agreement between Everton and United that Howard could not play on April 28."
Earlier this week, Everton spokesman Ian Ross said that as a condition of making the loan deal permanent in February, United had demanded Howard did not play on April 28.
Ross said Everton had no choice, otherwise United would have kept the transfer as a loan deal until the end of the season, and manager David Moyes wanted to sign Howard up before he faced competition from rivals.
League chiefs will probe Howard's absence from Everton's game against Man Utd.