Thursday, 17 May 2007

The Opening Salvo

Richard Scudamore and Sir David Richards, the chief executive and chairman of the Premier League, last night faced calls to resign over their handling of the Carlos Tevez controversy. As Sheffield United became the first member of the 'gang of four' to file a legal claim against the League over the decision not to dock West Ham points for breaking regulations on third-party ownership, it emerged that Wigan chairman Honest Dave has written to Scudamore and Richards urging them to "consider their positions". In an e-mail, sent to all 20 Premier League clubs yesterday, Whelan is understood to have accused the League's two most senior figures of neglecting their responsibilities over the decision to allow Tevez to continue playing after the ruling by an independent commission on April 27. Critically Whelan feels Scudamore has still to offer concrete proof that West Ham's original agreement with Kia Joorabchian's Media Sports Investment group, as third-party owners of Tevez, has indeed been terminated. Should he fail to do so, then Wigan would argue that the chief executive's position is untenable.

In the wake of an independent commission's ruling last month, Wigan demanded to see evidence that the third-party agreement had indeed been terminated, as this had given West Ham the green light to play the Argentinian striker in their remaining Premiership fixtures. The Premier League in its emailed response first stressed that it considered Tevez "at all times to have been registered to play for West Ham United". However, following the commission's judgement, it had reiterated to the London club that the Argentinian's registration would be cancelled should the league not be satisfied that "all trace of any third-party ability to influence West Ham's policies or the performance of the team was removed". Prior to the deadline of midnight on April 28 the Premier League board received three letters which satisfied them that West Ham had "acted in a manner that is consistent with them having terminated the offensive third-party agreement". The documents consisted of a letter sent by West Ham to Tevez, MSI and Just Sport Inc "terminating the private agreement between them dated August 30, 2006"; a second letter from the legal representatives of MSI and JSI acknowledging receipt of the Hammers' correspondence; and a letter confirming the above had been served to Tevez personally. Yet Wigan are incensed none of the letters appears to confirm that MSI or Tevez recognised the third-party agreement had been terminated and are amazed they could, therefore, be considered conclusive evidence. Whelan, in his email sent last night, again demanded concrete proof that the original agreement with Joorabchian was cancelled. If that is not forthcoming, Wigan intend to pounce upon Scudamore's assertion earlier this week that: "If the board suspects or has evidence that these undertakings are false or have been breached, then it will take all necessary steps to enforce Premier League Rules."

While the League insists it has seen West Ham’s termination of the contract with Media Sports Investment and Just Sport, as well as a letter from the companies acknowledging receipt, it admits it cannot ask the companies if they have terminated the agreement because they do not come under its jurisdiction. In a placatory move, The Premier League has said that it is willing to debate third-party agreements at the meeting of the Barclays Premiership clubs in two weeks. Meanwhile, it will consider its response to Sheffield United’s request for an arbitration panel under the Premier League's rule S4. The League acknowledged the legal claim from Sheffield United but refused to comment on whether they would agree to set up an arbitration panel to consider their claims. "We are in receipt of that request and it is under consideration," said a spokesman. United have hired law firm Denton Wilde Sapte to pursue the claim and although no other clubs were named in a statement they issued last night, it is understood the other clubs involved in the revolt, Charlton, Fulham and Wigan, are backing the move. The Blades want a three-man tribunal appointed to consider the decision to fine West Ham rather than dock points. The League’s rules for deciding disputes this way say that arbitration is "binding". United are also seeking a "hold on preparations for next season which wrongly assume that West Ham remains a Premiership club" and "an assessment of the clubs’ potential claim for damages".


Angela said...

As a very sad and despairing Sheffield United Fan, I am behind our Chairman and the other clubs every step of the way to weed out the corruption and lies

Bob said...

What corruption and lies?? Some of the facts you choose to ignore: Sheffield United's chairman, along with Wigan's, Charlton's and Fulham's decided upon the make-up of the INDEPENDENT disciplinary commission. As League Charimen, they also signed up to the process that dictated how that would be handled i.e that the commission's decisions would be binding on all clubs including the accused. At no time did the commission or the Premier League say that Tevez' registration or transfer were illegal or that he was in any way ineligible to play (these FACTS can be checked elswhere if you could be bothered to find out). Sheff U beat West Ham 3-0 in mid-April. Why did Sheff U not instigate these proceedings immediately if they didn't like the result of the commission? Oh, that's right because then you were safe from relegation. But you couldn't beat or draw at home with Wigan on the last day of the season so now it's West Ham and the Premier League's fault. Yeah, right.

Wellington said...

I think perhaps the Premier League have been a bit muddled in explaining the issues involved - although some newspapers (the telegraph being a blatant example) have constantly failed to report the story accurately and even a couple of days ago were still reporting Tevez and Mascherano were ineligible to play. As far as I can see the PL followed their rules, appointed an independent panel and saw it through. Is that worth people being sacked? No. It's sad to say but Shef Utd were not good enough to stay in the Premiership - end of story really. There's no precedent for docking a club points for possible third party interference and even then the interference would be around the transfer of the players not what they did on the pitch. Why should that result in a points fine? I think the only winners will be the lawyers.. (as usual) Whelan is really the person behind this whole farce simply because he's clearly not been understanding what it's all about..

Baldwin said...

Corruption and god!!!...a published judgement seems pretty transparent to me..the fact FIFA are likely to look at this seems pretty transparent to me..the fact the relevant documents have been shown is pretty transparent to me..take a long cold hard look in the mirror Sheffield supporters and ask yourself what exactly the problem is ok to be upset about relegation but dont use West Ham as the scapegoat on grounds of 'we played by the rules'. There was no precedent for what has happened here, namely non disclosure, but how can you penalise the players and fans when at all times Tevez was eligible to play? Nobody has indicated that his registration was flawed..WH were right to play him

If Sheffield want a points deduction for all misdemeanours like this lets have a crack at everyone and have a look at all the messy loan deals where conditions may involve third parties which may or may not be apparent.

Maybe this will still be the excuse when SU go to League 1 in 08!

Big-Yin said...

It's already been established that West Ham broke the rules - that's not the point at issue. The question is whether a fine or a points deduction was the appropriate sanction.

Seeing that a points deduction has long been the standard punishment for fielding ineligible players, from the top level of the professional game to the lowest reaches of park football, I would like to know why it was decided to impose a fine instead.

Could it be that they knew that West Ham would accept a fine, but would contest a points deduction through the courts?

ChristheManc said...

The circumstances surrounding Tevez's sudden eligibility after the first panel ruling are far too dodgy to be glossed over. When Mascherano moved, it took over a fortnight to work out if he was even eligible to play - yet we're expected to believe that it took a few hours to sort Tevez's situation out? And that the word of an organisation who had already lied once about the issue was accepted without any apparent proof being available to any of the other teams affected? Whelan is 100% right not to believe West Ham's assertations, or the words of Scudamore and Richards - who are now battling for their jobs - without any kind of real proof. It is to his credit that he persists in this even though his team will not now gain any benefit.

I don't think for a second that any of the Hammers seeking to brush this under the carpet would be anywhere near as serene had Sheffield United entered into a murky contract with a player whose performances had then sent West Ham down.


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