Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The Black Tornado

The arbitration panel charged with ruling on West Ham United's alleged transfer irregularities are poised to deliver a verdict to Sheffield United this afternoon. The three-man independent commission, consisting of former Court of Appeal judge Sir Philip Cotton, QC David Pannick and law specialist Nicholas Randall, do not have the power to deduct points from Alan Curbishley's side, but could order a fresh investigation into controversies surrounding Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, the Argentina internationals. The Times insist that Premiership officials remain confident the arbitration panel will back the decision delivered in the original hearing to issue a financial penalty to West Ham, although the commision must also rule on whether Tevez should have been de-registered in the wake of the original investigation. If the decision falls in Sheffield United's favour then the panel can either recommend financial compensation or a new investigation, with the added complication that there will be scant time for a new disciplinary hearing and any subsequent appeals to take place before the start of the Premiership and Football League seasons.

The BBC pick-up the same point and predict that any such ruling would throw the league into disarray. In the event that the tribunal declares that there are no grounds to order a new disciplinary commission for West Ham, but that Sheffield United could have a case for compensation, a whole new can of worms would be ripped opened. Such a verdict, claim the BBC, would effectively be saying that the original commission acted inappropriately. The Premier League has always maintained it handled the affair by the rulebook and it has consistently argued that the independent commission's original decision to fine West Ham rather than dock points should not be overturned simply because another club does not agree with it. The Sun confirm "the potentially powderkeg arbitration verdict" will be announced in London at 2.30pm.

Meanwhile, those incorrigible West Ham loving scamps over at the Daily Mail insist a black tornado could be about to blow through Upton Park. Surprisingly, this is not some dark proclamation of divine justice being metered out over the Carlos Tevez furore, but rather a rumour that West Ham are leading the chase for £5million-rated Stephen Appiah from Turkish giants Fenerbahce. The 26-year-old Ghana captain, nicknamed the 'Black Tornado', has two years left on his contract and came close to joining Arsenal last summer. The article claims Hammers boss Alan Curbishley is ready to swoop for the former Juventus star in order to add Appiah to his new-look midfield.

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