Friday, 13 July 2007

High Noon In The High Court

West Ham thought they had pulled off one of the biggest transfer coups in English football when they signed Carlos Tevez on Aug 31 last year, little realising that less than 12 months later the deal for the Argentina striker would end up being scrutinised by the High Court. Ben Hunt, writing in The Telegraph, charts the winding road that today sees Sheffield United asking for permission to appeal against the decision of an arbitration panel to dismiss their claims over the Carlos Tévez affair.

The Yorkshire club will need to prove to the High Court that the club should be given leave to appeal the decision of Sir Philip Otton's arbitration panel last week. Otton's judgment was that, although he would have deducted points from West Ham United for their failure to volunteer all details surrounding the third-party agreements that governed Carlos Tevez's career at Upton Park, he could not fault the Premier League's processes. That seemed to bring finality to the legal issues, since section S of the Premier League rulebook, which governs arbitration proceedings, demands that all parties submit to them on the understanding that judgments will be binding. But, say The Guardian, Sheffield United believe that Otton made an error in law by declining to order a new disciplinary commission to reconsider the punishment for West Ham's illegal conduct, prompting their court challenge today.

Sheffield United claim that the arbitration panel refused to analyse the seven reasons given by the Premier League commission for fining West Ham £5.5 million in April, rather than deducting points. The club feel some of those reasons were incorrect. In particular, they question why the commission felt justified to take into account the feelings of West Ham players and supporters and not the effect on fans from other clubs. The Premier League remains confident that the High Court will justify its handling of the affair. It maintains that the contract between West Ham and Kia Joorabchian, who owns the economic rights to Tévez, was terminated. Joorabchian disputes that. According to The Times, various legal experts have said that the chances of overturning the commission’s verdict are remote, but that they may have a better chance of success in claiming that the Premier League should not have allowed Tévez to play in the final three matches of the season. Sheffield United have asked Joorabchian to hand over paper-work relating to the transfer of the forward because it may help their case. West Ham claim that all documents are already with the Premier League.

"Don’t discount what might happen in the next few days," Kevin McCabe, the Sheffield United plc chairman, said. "This issue is not finished as far as we are concerned. It is ludicrous. Do you expect a company that owns the economic rights to Carlos Tévez and was willing to pay £15 million to get them from River Plate to walk away with nothing from his transfer to Manchester United? And do West Ham United expect them to get nothing? We’ve been digging up information that will be embarrassing for the Premier League to answer. Whether that means we have to take our place in the Championship, I don’t know."

It is hoped today's hearing should bring some clarity to a confused situation in which both West Ham and Tevez's handlers, Media Sports Investments, are asserting their exclusive rights over the player.


Kian said...

At long last it looks like something is going to be done.This can no longer be swept under the carpet.It looks like the high court and fifa are going to put right a wrong and its about time.I hope sheffield united and there fans start the new season in the premier league where they should rightly be.

Anonymous said...

Ummm...ahhhh...nah! It's a pity Sheffield United didn't win/draw more games to keep them in the Premiership instead of relying on another team to get points docked from their total to keep them up regardless of whether they deserve it or not.

Give my regards to League 1.


Dot Cotton said...

I believe the Premier League should have acted sooner, especially since Sheffield Utd were lobbying for the PL to launch an investigation months ago when they were 10 pts clear of the drop zone...............

No wait, that's right Sheffield Utd and rent a gob Whelan didn't start to kick up a stink until after their clubs were deep in the relegation battle when they should've been worrying about their sub standard players picking up enough points to survive. Instead they took their eye off the ball. Well tough.

Either way they should've conducted themselves in a more dignified manner, kept their mouths shut and just got on with pushing their case. But no, instead we got to hear from Messer's McCabe and Whelan every other day.

Any sympathy I had for Sheffield United evaporated ages ago. Enjoy the fizzy pop league boys you'll be there a while.

Bobby said...

I still can't understand what West Ham are being taken to the High Court for, if it was ok for Mascherano to transfer to Liverpool what is it exactly that they have done Wrong, they were fined £5.5million as I understand because the players had signed for 3 clubs in one season surely Mascherano has now signed for 4 clubs in one season.

Connor said...

the FA have screwed up big time in this affair. Its hard to understand why they accepted WH's laughable assertion that they had extracted themselves from their obligations to joorabchian by simply tearing up the contract. why on earth didnt they probe deeper and get some independent legal advice?

WH now look certain now to get a points deduction. However the suggestion is that they should stay in the premiership and lose the points THIS SEASON. That would seem grossly unfair to Sheffield Utd who would then seem to have a very strong legal case against the premier league. can the PL affors to pay out £50m?

I would also be interested to know what will happen should liverpool exercise their buy option on Mascherano at the end of the coming season. If they pay Joorabchian's company rather than west ham, are they also going to get embroilled in the same mess?

If this isnt sorted out quickly and tevez is left in limbo when the season kicks off, i would imagine that Tevez would have grounds to personally sue the PL for restraint of trade or possibly under the human rights act.

This is a shambles and heads should roll at the Premiership. I would also be interested to know what the role of the FA in this is/ should be. After all they own the PL and they are the ultimate governing body for english football. Surely they need to take a grip if the PL cannot.


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