Sunday, 20 May 2007

Going Too Far

Sheffield United have won a small but potentially significant victory in the Carlos Tevez affair with the Premier League agreeing to set up an arbitration panel to rule on the case that has left English football teetering on the brink of chaos. According to an exclusive in the Mail on Sunday, the League will facilitate the appointment of a three-man panel in the next few days even though it still may not be enough to appease United and the other clubs who want a new hearing following the original commission's decision not to deduct points from West Ham United. The League are insisting that any arbitration can only look at whether the original commission was conducted properly, but if the panel considered the process was faulty then they could send the affair back to the commission to review the punishment handed out to the Hammers. The article quotes a Premier League insider as saying: "It can't be about the decision, only the process. The only way the decision can be overturned is if arbitration decides it was a flawed process or an unrealistic judgment and they send it back to the original commission to review the punishment. It will be hard for anyone to prove that this was an irrational judgement."

It is the narrow terms of reference that may not be enough to satisfy Sheffield United, or even the other clubs who have come out publicly to support their stance. Indeed, Blades chairman Kevin McCabe remains willing to take legal action. "I have meetings with a QC on Monday," he said. "We are ready to get our team together within 24 hours to put our witness statement together. We will not rest until Sheffield United's position is protected from this unjust decision. We are not being unreasonable but we do have very strong feelings on this. The Premier League should be working to accommodate one of their member clubs, who have been wronged. This was a bizarre decision-making process. The decision not to deduct points and to cancel the registration of Tevez is totally flawed and illegal. You can't have regard for the players and fans of one club without having regard for all the fans and players at other clubs. Tevez and Mascherano were registered because the West Ham chief executive either misled or lied to the Premier League - and those are the words from the hearing - otherwise they would not have been registered. For the Premier League not to carry out the order of the hearing to cancel the registration is barely credible. Two wrongs make a further wrong."

This latest development will only serve to increase tensions when the Premier League convokes its annual general meeting on Thursday week. Steve Tongue, writing in the Independent on Sunday, suggests it is certain to be a frosty occasion, especially when the representatives of West Ham United and Wigan Athletic take their seats next to each other. Wigan's chairman, Dave Whelan, has been the most vociferous critic of the Premier League's decisions to fine West Ham rather than deducting points, and while Eggert Magnusson has been reluctant to discuss the issue publicly, he admitted today: "Some people have gone too far. I've been disappointed at how some people have been allowed to speak about my club after the judgement of the commission. I find it very strange, other clubs commenting [like that] about their fellow clubs. For me, it's over. I don't want to say any more at the moment, but I might do later in the summer."

In the same piece, Magnusson also shares his thoughts on the future of Carlos Tevez. "I hope he stays," he said. "He is a terrific player and a good guy. He knows the club and fans love him, and that will stick in his mind while he is on holiday." Tevez left Heathrow Airport with 18 suitcases last week, having apparently cleared out his Canary Wharf flat, and it has been assumed by many that he will not be returning to Upton Park. If Rafa Benitez has his way then that will certainly be the case. According to a story in the Sunday Express the Liverpool boss intends to spend a large chunk of his club's Champions League money on the Argentine striker. Benitez believes he holds a powerful bargaining tool with Javier Mascherano already at Anfield and will step up his discreet moves to land him after Wednesday night’s final in Athens against AC Milan.

The Sunday Mirror do not agree and insist Tevez will say farewell to West Ham today and open talks to seal his £25million transfer to Real Madrid. The article also claims Chelsea tabled a bid in excess of £20m for the 23-year-old Argentina international last Thursday but the player prefers to move to a Spanish-speaking country. They say West Ham did open talks with Tevez about a new contract which would have seen him become the highest paid player in the club's history but they are now resigned to his summer departure. Also in the paper is the story that Alan Curbishley will axe 12 of his underachieving West Ham squad this this summer in a £40million shake-up. It is claimed that The West Ham manager met senior officials at Upton Park last week and made it clear a major rebuilding programme was required. He has highlighted fundamental shortcomings in the Hammers' playing staff and also admitted that during his brief reign at the club he had made telling mistakes in recruitment. Two of the players he drafted in during the January transfer window, Nigel Quashie and Calum Davenport, are included on the long list of players being put up for sale. Among the biggest departures will be captain Nigel Reo-Coker, Matthew Etherington, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand and strikers Marlon Harewood and Bobby Zamora. Etherington and Konchesky have already drawn £3million bids from Wigan and Birmingham respectively, while Charlton's Darren Bent and Liverpool's Craig Bellamy remain top of Curbishley's shopping list.

Also in the tabloids the News of the World claim the Hammers are willing to beat the £45,000 a week salary Steve Sidwell has been offered to switch to Stamford Bridge. Sidwell is a free agent and his expected move to Chelsea is due to be finalised this week. Curbishley has warned Sidwell- a West Ham fan from boyhood- that he could be a bit part player in west London whereas he would be a essential figure at Upton Park. Meanwhile we will also move for striker Andy Johnson and midfielders Tim Cahill and Scott Parker. The same paper also has the club in a tug-of-war with Blackburn Rovers over the signature of Derby County's highly rated Giles Barnes, 18 year old son of former Hammers winger Bobby. Billy Davies wants around £4million for the young talent. The Star has Tevez signing for Liverpool, but this time for around £15million, and Konchesky moving to Everton for £1million. They also claim West Ham are leading the chase for highly rated Wolves striker Michael Kightly. The Essex-born youngster was previously a target for Manchester United. Finally, the Sunday People insist we are at the front of the queue, with Portsmouth, for Watford striker Hameur Bouazza.


Phil said...

Yet another Premier League fudge. The fact that their original verdict included the view that they 'considered the fans of West Ham', was in itself partial. In cases of precedent, the club committing the 'crime' in this case West Ham, would forfet any points gained when playing unregistered players. If this causes problems then it is the fault of the Premier League for not hearing the case earlier.
The suspicion is that they (the PL) deliberately delayed the hearing,hoping that the problem would 'go away', and that West Ham would be automatically relegated.
This cannot be leaft to fester. However difficult , it must be cleared up and West Ham should pay a penalty comensurate with the crime - points deduction and automatic relegation - none of this nonsense about a 21 team league.
By the way,I am not a Sheffield United supporter.

TrevtheBrummie said...

Go for it, Sheffield. Don't let this die down as all right-thinking football fans KNOW the Tevez deal stinks.
It'll be interesting who will make up the arbitration board though. We've already got Brooking, who else? Alf Garnett? Billy Mitchell?

DB said...

If there is any justice in this world West Ham will be sent down. They lied and cheated and secured the points they needed by fielding a player who should not have been on the pitch. The subsequent enquiry was a shambles; far too long was taken in reaching a decision and the subesquent outcome was quite clearly biased towards West Ham.In effect West Ham have lost £5m and gained £50m in avoiding relegation.- they have been rewarded for their crime.The FA/Premier league have been shown at best to be amateurish and incompetent and Scudamore should resign now before the arbutration enquiry starts if he is to maintain any credibility at all

Anonymous said...

More ill-informed comments I see...

minijonb said...

All of you...

West Ham has been cleared. The incompetence of the FA, going all the way back to August, is not their fault. Seriously. If the FA decided to not to read the papers after the transfer and deal with this properly back in the Fall, why should West Ham pay any price for that now? West Ham should have appealed the fine and told the FA to stuff it. If they can't handle player registration properly, they shouldn't be in the business of running the richest sporting association in the world.

HeadHammerShark said...

Ignorance is bliss, I see.

To be fair to the FA, they have nothing to do with it - this was a Premier League appointed panel and judicial process.

Some of the above comments are absolute nonsense, however.

"A penalty comensurate with the crime - points deduction and relegation". Please provide some justification for this, other than "All right thinking football fans know this stinks".

You are effectively suggesting that if it were Man Utd rather than West Ham in this situation, then a 52 point deduction would be entirely appropriate.

I am afraid that the fact that West Ham were in a relegation fight is irrelevant when considering punishment. The Premier League were bound by their own constitution and obliged to consider precedent.

The nearest thing to precedent in a case like this was when Spurs had their 12 point deduction overturned in the early 90's. The Boro case is irrelevant as they were clearly warned by the PL that failure to fulfil a fixture would result in a 3 point deduction, as is the Bury case which was ruled on by the FA.

It's interesting to see that the hatchet job carried out by Wigan/Sheffield United and various friendly media outfits has been a success though. Even at this point there are still people suggesting that he was ineligible.

It doesn't hurt to read a little about these things you know folks.


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