Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Upping The Antti

The Premier League have agreed to set up an arbitration tribunal to rule on Sheffield United's complaints over the Carlos Tevez affair. The League have conceded that the club do have the right to call for an arbitration panel, but have told the relegated side they are wasting their time and money. The Blades though are to insist on pursuing their claim that the independent commission should have deducted points from West Ham and that the League should have cancelled Tevez's registration. A source close to Sheffield United said: "We received a letter from the Premier League today telling us they do not think we have any grounds to request arbitration - but they accept it is our right to do so. They have said they will not appoint anyone until Friday to give us the opportunity to withdraw the request - basically they are saying we are wasting everybody's time. We still believe these matters need to be resolved so we will press ahead and ask for arbitration and we hope that this process can be concluded before the end of June." The Premier League say they are satisfied West Ham ended those agreements as soon as they were ordered to do so, and that the independent commission's decision cannot be appealed against by anyone except West Ham. Both parties will nominate one member each of the tribunal and these two members would then choose a chairman. The tribunal would effectively have the powers of a court and the parties would agree in advance to abide by any decision reached. The club is also challenging the Premier League's "failure to conduct an adequate investigation into the continued fielding of Tevez after the 27 April decision, despite serious questions over his eligibility".

On the transfer front, the Daily Mail claim Antti Niemi's sterling goalkeeping displays for Fulham have alerted West Ham. The article suggests
Alan Curbishley is determined to perform a dramatic overhaul at Upton Park during the close season and regards Niemi as one of the best keepers in the business. Despite Robert Green's heroic displays towards the end of the season there remains a suspicion that his relationship with Curbishley is less than easy. Even so, this is a strange story considering Fulham were rumoured to be looking at Robert Green in the January transfer window to improve their own goalkeeping situation. The Rumour Mill also has us interested in Middlesbrough's former Derby County central defender Chris Riggott. In the same paper there is the story that Yossi Benayoun looks set to perform an about turn by pledging his future to West Ham. The Israeli midfielder was widely expected to hand in a transfer request this summer, with the likes of Tottenham, Portsmouth and Newcastle linked to the player. But the combination of West Ham's Premiership survival and (mainly) the offer of vastly improved terms at Upton Park appear to have prompted the change of heart- a weekly wage increase from £23,000 to £38,500 over five years the going rate for loyalty. In the Independent there is a story suggesting we have offered £40,000 a week to Bolton's out-of-contract central defender Tal Ben Haim. The 25-year-old is said to be holding out for an offer from Chelsea before making his final decision, with Portsmouth also in the hunt for his signature. West Ham, who tried to sign Ben Haim in January, hope Ben Haim's friendship with Yossi Benayoun may help their cause.

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