Thursday, 3 May 2007

Court Wars

Sometimes I go about in pity for myself while, all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky...
ye olde Ojibwe saying

Irate Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has confirmed that his club is considering taking legal action after the Premier League declined to dock West Ham points for fielding ineligible players. Instead of concentrating on his own club's increasingly desperate plight, 'Honest' Dave has become somewhat fixated with the dark machinations of the independent Premier League inquiry. In an article in The Guardian, he is quoted as saying: "This is a very serious offence West Ham committed. They broke the law, told blatant lies and should have got a 10-point penalty. If we can sue West Ham or the Premier League, I am sure that will happen." Indeed, if the Irons do not finish as one of the bottom three sides then the clubs around them may join forces to demand we are demoted. "Justice would be West Ham being one of the two clubs that still has to go down, but justice has so far not been served in this case," Whelen said. "If there was any action taken by the bottom six clubs that are in danger of going down, I'd be a big supporter of that action. I think the bottom six will stick together and take action together whichever two clubs go down, if West Ham aren't one of them. If any action is taken I think it'll be in the next 14 days and I'll support any action that the clubs want to take. The chairmen and chief executives have all spoken and two, maybe three clubs are in the process of taking legal advice, Wigan being one of them. Would we sue the league? We don't know whether we could. Would we sue West Ham? Again, we need to find out whether we can."

According to top sports lawyer Mel Goldberg there could be a case for legal action against the Premier League. In a piece in The Times, he states: “I do believe that, if a club goes down by a point or two, those relegation clubs would have a decent claim. It seems part of the decision has been attributed to the fact that it is near the end of the season and they didn’t want to upset the supporters. That seems to be irrelevant. If West Ham were playing players who were not properly registered, there have been precedents of other teams being dropped points. The rules should be the same." Clubs in lower leagues have previously been docked points for irregularities, while Bury were kicked out of the FA Cup this season. Past precedents would add to a case for relegated teams if West Ham climb out of the bottom three. Goldberg added: "They could possibly ask for money as compensation if they argue they were not being treated fairly."

To continue the litigious theme of this post, another story in The Times suggests Mohamed Al Fayed, the Fulham chairman, has also instructed his lawyers to examine the decision not to deduct points from West Ham United. Fulham are said to be among the clubs unhappy about the reasoning of the three-man independent panel for not docking points, arguing that West Ham should be accountable for their actions. "We are looking at the evidence involved in the outcome very carefully and will review our findings and act accordingly,” a Fulham statement said. Al Fayed has been quick to act in the past if he believes there to have been an injustice. He took action against Jean Tigana, claiming that his former manager had overpaid for players by millions of pounds. Tigana was cleared of any wrongdoing in the High Court in 2004.

In a further twist, the BBC are reporting that former West Ham chairman Terry Brown is also threatening to take legal action against the Premiership club. According to BBC sports editor Mihir Bose, Brown is furious after being sent a letter terminating the contract he signed when he sold the club, a contract that allowed him to earn £1.5m until 31 May 2009. It also contained certain other privileges such as directors' box seats and the job of vice-president. The present regime hold Brown responsible for what they allege is a breach of trust as chairman. Brown's former managing director Paul Aldridge has already threatened legal action, saying his reputation has been "besmirched" by the inquiry into the transfers of Tevez and Mascherano. Aldridge said: "Naturally, my sympathies lie with the club I was chief executive of for 10 years in respect of what seems a very harsh sanction. However, my own personal and professional reputations have been besmirched. The findings accuse me of acting dishonestly and lying. This is hardly natural justice in my view. Until the publication of these findings, my integrity has never been questioned during my career. Accordingly, I have placed the matter in the hands of my lawyer who will be taking the matter further on my behalf."

1 comment:

Knoxy said...

Mr Whelan and Co as one would expect are acting out of desperation, they are being very selective in their quotes from the FAPL panels judgement. It is clear for all to see that the two Argentines were registered correctly therefore there are no grounds for a points deduction. Perhaps the authorities should take a closer look at the scurrilous remarks made by this little lynch mob regarding the integrity of the panel! a clear case of bringing the game into disrepute I think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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