Friday, 2 March 2007

Decision Day

According to the Guardian, West Ham United will learn today if they are to face charges over the transfers of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez. The Premier League's legal department has been investigating the contracts and registration documents surrounding the pair's move from Corinthians on transfer-deadline day last August. The main consideration is an indictment of the relegation-threatened Hammers under rules U6 and U18, governing club contracts and conflicts of interest, because of the opacity of the ownership of the players, who are linked with the Media Sports Investment organisation formerly run by Kia Joorabchian.

The Independent believes that in all likelihood charges will be laid against the Premiership club - who will contest the case vigorously - because of the confusion over just who owns the two Argentines. If West Ham are charged, they will have to face an independent commission of inquiry. The commission, if it decides the club is guilty, will also sit in judgement on the punishment with a range of sanctions - from a reprimand through to a range of fines, points deduction and even expulsion from the League. Once the punishment is decided West Ham will have the opportunity to appeal. The process may take up to three weeks to be completed.

West Ham are confident that they have a strong defence and have sought legal advice. The Upton Park club will argue that if any mistakes were made they were made by the previous regime and not by the new owners headed by the chairman Eggert Magnusson, who has acted in good faith. They will also point out that the original contracts were ratified by the Premier League. Magnusson had been quick to launch a preemptive defence of his position, stating in his first media appearance as West Ham's chairman that the club would never enter into a similar transfer arrangement on his watch. With that in mind, and in a move that would gladden the hearts of most Hammers fans, the club will also look at taking legal action against former chairman Terry Brown, who this week stepped down as a director, and the former chief executive Paul Aldridge, on the possible grounds that they were legally liable for the deals in the first place.

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