Saturday, 3 March 2007

The Fall Out

West Ham United's season was plunged into further turmoil last night when they were, as widely expected, charged by the Premier League for breaching rules over the signings of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. A Premier League statement said: "It is the board's complaint that there were agreements in relation to both these transfers that enabled third parties to acquire the ability materially to influence the club's policies and/or the performance of its teams in League matches and/or the competitions set out in Rule E10. The board's view is this constitutes a breach of rule U18. Furthermore at the time of the transfer agreements for both Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, and until January 24 2007, West Ham United failed to disclose the third party agreements to the Premier League and/or deliberately withheld these agreements from the Premier League. The board's view is this constitutes a breach of rule B13, which states, 'In all matters and transactions relating to the League each club shall behave towards each other club and the League with the utmost good faith'." West Ham have released an official response that reads: "West Ham United has been notified of a disciplinary charge by the Premier League relating to the transfers of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez and asked to respond within 14 days. In light of the legal advice received, the Club will vigorously defend itself against the charge and provide a detailed response as requested by the Premier League within the time allowed."

According to the Guardian, the club, in their defence, will claim that Alan Pardew, then the manager, had full control over team selection, meaning U18 was not breached. The club will cite a precedent set in 1994, when Alan Sugar, then chairman of Tottenham Hotspur, had a 12-point deduction rescinded after arguing that the club's offences - making illegal payments to players - were committed by a former regime. The current West Ham ownership, an Icelandic consortium headed by Eggert Magnusson, did not sign Tevez and Mascherano. The Times carries a similar story but also mentions that any points deduction could be carried over to next season's campaign. A seperate Times article, by Russell Kempson, offers a brief Q&A breakdown of the situation. The Telegraph, in an unusually emotive piece, says West Ham have been accused of intentionally misrepresenting the situation and of lying over the ownership of the players.

The Independent has an editorial, West Ham Staring Into The Abyss, which painfully places this latest furore as the culmination of a 'week from hell' that included dressing room unrest, gambling adictions, petitions, unpaid congestion charge payments and a court trial.

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