Monday, 30 April 2007

Racing Certainties?

According to a story on the Sky Sports website West Ham have joined the race to sign Racing Santander's highly-rated defensive duo Ruben Gonzalez and Ezequiel Garay. Our Spanish feeder club, who have already provided us with the services of Yossi Benayoun, currently sit eighth in La Liga and both players have played a major role in that success. The Hammers dispatched a scout to El Sardinero at the weekend to watch Racing's clash with Deportivo La Coruna and Spanish sources say Garay and Ruben were the reason behind the visit. The article states we are not the only club to have shown an interest, with Manchester United, Tottenham, Everton and Bolton having all watched the pair in recent months. A Racing spokesman admitted: "It is certain that many scouts from the Premier League have been watching our games this year, but as of today we have not received any offer for the players."

In other news, Paul Jewell has accused the Premier League of "bottling it" when it came to punishing West Ham United over the Carlos Tevez case. In the story in The Guardian, the Wigan boss said a "precedent" had been set whereby clubs can now expect financial censure rather than a points deduction for the fielding of ineligible players, and claims a Premier League "insider" pleaded with officials at Wigan to beat West Ham on Saturday because of the unsuitable nature of the punishment. He broadened the subject by mentioning "other London clubs quite high up the league," who may use third- party agreements to sign players. Jewell said football's authorities are "frightened of what they might find" if they delve too deeply into certain clubs' practices.

The Daily Express suggest he could be thinking of Brazilian defender Alex, alleged to be a Chelsea player, who is playing for PSV Eindhoven and appeared against the Londoners in the Champions League. The Blues deny they hold Alex’s registration but do say they have first option to buy. In the same article, Jewell says he felt something was strange when League Two club Accrington Stanley played two ineligible players but were fined only £12,000 by the Football League less than a month ago. "I did smell a rat when Accrington Stanley got fined to be perfectly honest,” said Jewell. "Bury got kicked out of the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player and when it came to fruition that West Ham might have done a similar thing, they might have got their heads together and said, ‘Listen, don’t take points off Accrington Stanley, you’d better fine them."

Still with Wigan and chairman Dave Whelan has 'jokingly' threatened the Premier League with a legal headache if Wigan go down instead of West Ham. In a piece in the Manchester Evening News it is suggested Whelen could end up in a legal battle with the Premier League fighting for reinstatement of his club, plus financial compensation should his club go down and West Ham stay up. Fulham are also believed to have sought legal advice on the matter in what is becoming an increasingly fractious situation. Across the Pennines, and Sheffield United manager Ted Warnock has broken his silence on the Premier League's decision not to dock points from relegation rivals West Ham United. The Yorkshire Post carries an outspoken attack in which Warnock accuses those running the English game of both favouritism and double standards. "If it had been Sheffield United, Watford or Wigan – I think there would have been points deducted," he said. "Everybody knows that. And I think they (the Premier League) have set a rod for their own back. You can basically do what you want now and not get any points deducted."

Finally, there is a heart-warming story in the Daily Mail that claims the club are set to withhold more than £1million in payments to former chairman Terry Brown and withdraw his eight complimentary seats at Upton Park as they seek some redress after being fined £5.5m by the Premier League. Chairman Eggert Magnusson will consult major investor and club life honorary president Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson this week before deciding whether to go after Brown, who was club chairman when the deals were made, for some of the fine imposed. As part of the takeover, it was agreed Brown should be paid a salary of £600,000 per year for the next two years and given prime seats at Upton Park. It seemed likely today, though, that Magnusson, who is increasingly keen to distance him from the previous regime and holds the former chairman largely responsible for the problems with the deals, would withhold those payments.

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