Wednesday, 7 March 2007

The First Rule Of Relegation

The gushing torrent of West Ham stories in the media over the last week has slowed to a trickle this morning. The Times are the only national newspaper to lead with a major feature, with Russell Kempson picking up on the police investigation into the race row that has been simmering since Sunday. It reports that after allegations of anti-Semitic chanting during West Ham’s 4-3 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, Piara Powar, director of the antiracism movement, “Kick It Out”, has appealed to the FA to continue its “zero-tolerance” approach towards racism. Footage of the incident, apparently taken in a concourse bar at Upton Park, had been placed on the internet. Although the film was removed yesterday, with police now investigating a complaint, Powar believes that it is as serious a matter as racist chanting from seats or terraces inside stadiums. “I think it is as bad,” Powar said. “I think the response from the FA will underline the zero-tolerance policy that we have here and that can wake people from their complacency."

Interestingly, Matt Scott in the Guardian reveals that Tottenham Hotspur are expected to conduct a full consultation exercise over their fans' habit of referring to themselves as the "Yid Army", amid fears the term could give rise to casual anti-semitism. A meeting, arranged for March 19, will be attended by representatives of the Kick It Out campaign, the club, its supporters' trust, the Community Security Trust, a Jewish community organisation, the Football Association and the Premier League. It is the first public acknowledgment that the problem may not be entirely one sided.

The only other piece of business is also in The Times with Martin Samuel devoting his column to an exposition of what might direction West Ham will move in during the summer. It's a grimly amusing article based around the observation that the first rule of relegation is that everyone the club need to keep will leave and vice versa. In the summer after relegation in 2003, West Ham lost Joe Cole to Chelsea. Jermain Defoe went to Tottenham midway through the next season and Michael Carrick followed him in August. In the meantime, there were no takers for Don Hutchison, Tomas Repka or Christian Dailly. That is the way the market works. Managers do not descend hungrily on the squads of relegated clubs looking for players who were particularly feeble or fainthearted when the heat was on.

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