Friday, 2 February 2007

Disloyalty is a Two Way Street

The Daily Mail has to print something extraordinary before I’ll give it a mention on this blog but today they stole a march on everyone with a convoluted story of shadowy intrigue, ineligible players, rule breaking and possible points deductions. Apparently the Premier League is facing a revolt among their own members amid growing suspicion that West Ham and Portsmouth have fielded ineligible players this season. The controversy surrounds the contravening of Rule U18 that forbids England’s top-flight clubs from signing players who are owned by a "third party" who would have the "ability materially to influence its policies or the performance of its teams". Complications came to light following Liverpool’s attempt to sign Javier Mascherano during the transfer window.

Now, far from me to downplay this particular media squall but I’m having a problem seeing this actually leading anywhere. Aside from the fact that the FA would be throwing themselves into a very expensive and protracted lawsuit, there would also be some very embarrassing questions asked of the officials who ratified the original deal for our Argentinians five months ago. In addition, anybody who looks objectively at West Ham’s season to date would have great difficulty in concluding we have benefited in any way from the presence of either of the two players. Mascherano has played something like 390 minutes of football in which time we have failed to register a single point. Tevez is still awaiting his first goal.

In other news, Matthew Upson has hit back at Steve Bruce following criticism of his move to the Irons. Bruce had complained that the transfer was motivated purely by money and engineered by an interfering agent. "The whole thing has been driven by his agent who wanted him to get a move," he said. ''I really believed he'd stay until the end of the season — and then he could have gone with my blessing." Upson thinks that Bruce should understand his situation after making controversial moves himself when he was the manager at Wigan and Crystal Palace. "In terms of moving clubs and honouring contracts, Steve has had his fair share of controversy in that area," Upson said. "He is fully aware of the situation and, whenever he has wanted to go, he has made it happen. I honoured my contract 100 per cent. If this deal had not gone through, I would still be a Birmingham player and preparing for the game against Colchester this weekend."

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