Monday, 14 May 2007

F*&k Off Back To Charlton!

The momentum behind possible a legal challenge to West Ham's escape from relegation appears to be growing after Wigan chairman Dave Whelan claimed Middlesbrough had joined the so-called 'Gang of Four'. In an article in today's Guardian the Wigan chairman is quoted as saying: "Charlton, Sheff United, Wigan, Fulham and Middlesbrough are all determined that we should get justice and West Ham should have been deducted points. It has to be done quickly because the longer this goes on the less likelihood of the league reviewing it at all. We are going to fight and support them and we will fight with them to the end." Sheffield United's plc chairman Kevin McCabe also told Radio Four's Today programme he believed the groundswell of opinion was behind them. "I think most of the Premier League clubs and other football clubs support us over this injustice that has come about this season," he said. "Four years ago the Blades had just lost in the [Championship] play-off final and I felt gutted. This time I feel cheated. I think there is a consensus most clubs support an injustice so I hope we will get the vast majority of clubs in the Premier League supporting our case." The piece claims at least another two unnamed top-flight clubs are ready to throw their weight behind the movement. As revealed in yesterday's Observer, those two clubs are likely to be Tottenham Hotspur, who have been very vocal behind the scenes, and Aston Villa who have deep concerns about the precedent that has now been set.

A separate article states the 'Gang of Four' are meeting today to discuss their next legal move. Dave Whelan confirmed: "We have got legal advice and the legal advice is yes, we have a good, strong case. But it has to be done quickly. I am sorry for Sheffield United. We set off down the road for justice and we will not come off the road until we get it. I have just seen the chairman of Sheffield United [Kevin McCabe] and said, 'You get stuck into them'." The exact nature of the clubs' next step is uncertain but the Premier League is bracing itself for a fight, something which could force its chief executive, Richard Scudamore, to consider his position. What is clear is that any legal action will have to be initiated soon. Serie A had a delayed start last season because of legal action but there is no precedent in England.

A report in the Mail suggests Eggert Magnusson has no concerns about what the future holds. The West Ham chairman said: "The matter is in the hands of the Premier League and I am content to leave it so. The Premier League are clear they are satisfied with things and as far as I am concerned, that is that. I always wanted our destiny to be decided out on the pitch and it has been. Alan Curbishley has done a magnificent job and now we must sit down at talk about the future."

The Telegraph largely eschews the legal considerations in its coverage today. Alan Hansen states Jewell and Curbishley deserve all accolades and concludes whatever the rights and wrongs of the Carlos Tevez affair, whatever the rights and wrongs of fielding weakened sides - and this is something that has gone on for years in the Premiership - Curbishley, like Jewell, deserves immense credit. West Ham, like Wigan, were a side that appeared absolutely gone and yet they have survived in the teeth of the fiercest controversy. Ian Whittel believes survival eclipses all legal worries. He writes that the Carlos Tevez affair looks certain to rumble on but the prospect of possible legal challenges could not ruin the day for West Ham manager Alan Curbishley, after one of the most remarkable acts of escapology in the league's history. "We pulled off an amazing escape,” said Curbishley. "To win seven out of our last nine, considering the opposition we’ve played, is incredible. A few months ago I had fans shouting 'fuck off back to Charlton' at me because they couldn’t work out what had happened to their club. All the things that went on were before I got there in December. The Premier League had their inquiry, they gave their verdict and we have got on with it. We have been public enemy No 1 and that has been ramped up a bit this week. Now it is over. The Premier League say it’s over and I’ve got to look forward to next year."

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