Saturday, 7 July 2007

The Standoff

West Ham United appear set for a legal battle with Carlos Tevez's handlers after wildly conflicting accounts about the forward's future emerged last night. The Argentina international's representatives announced they had agreed personal terms with Manchester United, minutes after West Ham said they expected the player to return to Upton Park for pre-season training. This extraordinary act of brinkmanship came at the end of another day of frantic negotiations involving lawyers from West Ham, Manchester United, the Premier League and Kia Joorabchian, the player's agent and part owner. The Telegraph insist it is still almost certain a deal will eventually be struck which will allow Tevez to move to Old Trafford - he was said to be undergoing a medical yesterday - but the confusion and controversy which has clouded the player's short career in England is set to continue for some weeks yet.

Jason Burt, writing in The Independent, states Eggert Magnusson's sudden intervention was prompted by a warning from the Premier League who have threatened West Ham United with another inquiry if the club does not keep most of the £35million transfer fee Manchester United could eventually pay for Carlos Tevez. By asserting their "rights" to the striker the Hammers have now set themselves on an irrevocable collision course with Kia Joorabchian, the British-Iranian businessman who claims that he owns Tevez and has only loaned him. The claim ­ that Tevez is West Ham's player ­ will be disputed by Joorabchian and means the club face either a court battle with the entrepreneur or having to submit themselves to another Premier League disciplinary panel. To complicate matters further, argues Burt, it is unlikely that the panel could meet before the start of the season, with West Ham then facing the very real threat of points being deducted in the next campaign.

A Premier League source said last night that West Ham found themselves "between a rock and a hard place" and may well decide that facing Joorabchian in court ­ with the likelihood that they would lose the case and have to pay substantial compensation on top of the £5.5million fine already imposed upon them by the League's panel ­ is preferable to another inquiry. The Premier League are adamant they will not sanction Tevez's sale unless West Ham retain "a substantial part" of the transfer fee. By that they mean most of the £35million the champions could end up paying for the Argentine if he stays with them for the next five years. Neither will the Premier League allow West Ham to loan Tevez to United ­ unless they receive the loan fees, which could amount to more than £10million. However that, again, would be contested by Joorabchian.

Manchester United had hoped to announce last night that they had signed Tevez in a complicated arrangement which will see the 23-year-old move to Old Trafford on an initial two-year loan with a view to a permanent three-year deal being signed if United take up an option. The reported figures in this morning's press reveal Tevez will be paid £90,000-a-week by United, taking the overall cost of the deal to £60million. Speaking on the radio yesterday evening, Daily Mail sports editor Lee Clayton said the proposed Tevez deal was structured almost exactly in the same way to the one that allowed Javier Mascherano to move to Liverpool, in the belief that the precedent would force it through stringent Premier League scrutiny. The Independent claim that the reason the Premier League has hardened its own stance is that it says undertakings were given by West Ham on 27 April that Tevez was their player alone. That is why they will not cancel his registration and allow him to move for nothing to Manchester United. Therefore they do not accept that the terms of Tevez's proposed deal are the same as Mascherano's. Manchester United's solicitor Maurice Watkins was at Premier League headquarters yesterday morning to argue that the organisation did not have the right to say where transfer fees were paid.

Joorabchian insists that West Ham are not entitled to any of the money. He states that when Tevez arrived at Upton Park last summer it was on a one-year loan deal with an option to sign for three more years if West Ham paid a fee of £40million. Furthermore, three weeks' ago he received a letter from Magnusson ­ whose regime was not responsible for the original deal ­ stating that the club would not be taking up that option and, therefore, he could talk to other clubs. A Manchester United spokesman said yesterday: "Carlos Tevez was given permission to speak to us and do a deal." The Sun state although West Ham still hold his registration they do not have a contract of employment with him. A source close to Tevez, who is contracted to a consortium headed by businessman Kia Joorabchian, said: "West Ham might be able to get a small amount of compensation to pass on Tevez’s registration, but claims they can get millions are, quite frankly, laughable."

Although Joorabchian disputed West Ham's claims over the player last night, insisting that the club only had a one-year playing contract with a three-year option to renew, David Bond in The Telegraph says those terms might only apply to some of the side agreements ripped up in April. Those claims, he observes, appear to be at odds with the findings of the independent commission who fined West Ham £5.5 million for breaking third party rules. That judgment stated clearly that Tevez had a four-year playing contract with West Ham. Only once the truth of this tangled contractual web is established by a judge, suggests Bond, will United be able to negotiate a deal for Tevez to join them.

This is not a detail that seems to worry anybody over at The Mirror. They have largely glossed over the dispute with a story that reveals Tevez's burning ambition to play for Manchester United. The article states Tevez had offers from Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Liverpool but has chosen United because he says he is a huge admirer of Ferguson and his attacking style of play. Tevez said: "I only know Alex Ferguson from what I see from the outside but I believe he is a great manager and that I will be a good pupil for him. Manchester United is a team with a very offensive, attacking style of play. This is the system I always desire. Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world. I have spoken with him during the season and I admire him for being a star on the pitch and on the street."

Tevez also admits he has spoken to Juan Sebastian Veron about Manchester United and about how difficult it is for the team and for the players to triumph because of all the pressure put on them. "There is almost an obligation to win every game when you are at Manchester United," he said. "Nothing else is acceptable. That is very difficult for most players to live with but believe me when I say that those sort of challenges are attractive to me. I enjoy that pressure. It makes me fight harder. I have demonstrated many things in South America already in clubs like Boca Juniors and Corinthians where the expectation is so great from the fans. I have been successful and done well under that sort of pressure and now I want to repeat the experience in England. I think I have already shown some of that with West Ham. I loved that experience and it was always going to be a special club to make me leave there. But a club like Manchester United is one of football's superclubs."


Collis said...

This is starting to sound a bit like the Jon Obi Mikel deal to me; tiptoeing along on the edge of legality. Chelsea got ripped off on that one, although with the findings of the current police investigation, that 16 million may have to be paid back eventually. With SAF's hypnotic control over the FA, that would be unlikely though. Oh well, for Roman, it's only beer money anyway.

Geoff said...

People! West Ham won more points than other teams that got themselves relegated from the PL last season. SUFC only needed a clean sheet in their last (HOME) game of the season to stay up!
Thats how the league works....results on the pitch.....
Tevez did not relegate them. Warnock and his rubbish team did.

Now move on please...................

Greavsey said...

What I don't get is how West Ham can just "rip up" its contract with Tevez's agents. Surely, like any contract, its a two-way thing and can only be "ripped up" if both parties agree. I'd like to rip up my mortgage contract with my bank and keep my house, but I think the bank would beg to differ. Seems to me that the premier league is trying to do anything it can to ensure its decision not to deduct West Ham points does not come under further scrutiny. Sheff Utd should keep going with their just fight!

woody said...

Let me get this right. The FA, who should have docked West Ham points for fielding an ineligible player, but who fined them instead, are now insisting that West Ham receive about £6m (enough to pay off the fine) for the same player, whom they don't own in the first place........................??!!

woodfield said...

Interesting piece on the legal ramifications.

On a footballing level, Tevez's signing is a mouth-watering prospect for Utd, and, together with Rooney and Ronaldo, could help Utd stay at the top for many seasons.

And who said Fergie should retire peacefully?

Bromsgrove said...

I believe that the real problem stems from West Ham cancelling their agreement with Joorabchiran. Surely a contract is a two way agreement and one party deciding to cancel the agreement must also be agreed with the other party. West Ham's actions after the PremierLeague's decision was totally one sided and as such the contract that they entered into with Joorabchiran still stands. Essentially meaning that legally he and not West Ham own the player.

I fear that this is the major issue. If this is proven in a court of law (and with the Blades high court case pending) it would mean West Ham have continued the play Tevez illegally but more importantly with the PremierLeague's blessing. Which would open both parties up to Law Suits from Sheffield United.

What ever happens, morally everyone knows that West Ham are at fault and the PremierLeague handled things very badly indeed, but that will not help the Blades.

As for Tevez, he will definately be at Old Trafford next season!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm. All above board then. Do the PL think we are all idiot enough to believe that Joorabchian has given up all claim to an asset he paid millions for from the South american Club. Apparently so.

Mikey said...

Every man and his dog know west ham have lied to stay in the prem, they obviously have big friends at the top.

Although a utd fan, this Tevez deal cannot be allowed until the agent agrees to give up ALL rights of ownership of Tevez.

The next move for utd should be a human rights commission to get Tevez's agent jailed for slave trading.

Ritchie said...

Appears that there is general agreement that Joorbachian does have strong case for owning/controlling player who kept West Ham in Premiership by playing 3 games after West Ham said they had regained his control, otherwise why would everyone think the transfer money will eventually make its way to him?

This is obviously unfair on Sheffield United. Is there nothing they can do to unmask the situation? Would the Premiership want to be seen to be acting unfairly in its dealings between West Ham and Sheffield United?

davie said...

It is very common for agents to own players, and all to probable that many of them expect to have an influence on future transfers (which, as we now know, is illegal).
West Ham have insisted - publicly and in writing - since before the end of the season that they have Tevez contracted for 3 more years. If the Premiership allows Man Utd to deal directly with Jia (the agent) then they will effectively be allowing their own rules to be broken. That is not going to happen!
I don' t have much sympathy for the agent in this case, since he, presumably, knowingly entered into an illegal agreement to his advantage: the one he made with Chairman Brown (on the previous West JHam Board).
As far as the present Chairman "Eggs" is concerned, that dodgy agreement has already cost him a whopping 5.5 million, three times more than any previous fine. My guess is that West Ham and the Premiership will stick to their laurels and ensure that Man utd deal directly with the Hammers.

Livesy said...

How much did the hammers pay for Tevez?

And when?

I hope they have receipts.

Michelle said...

Joorabchian is not disputing the fact that West Ham did sign Tevez on a permanant contract so why anyone would ask to see reciepts when they hold the players registration I do not know

moscow mule said...

Why would West Ham recieve transfer money when they have never paid a transfer fee for the player in question? Obviously, this stinks. Once again the FA prove to be incompetent.


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