Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The Subpoena

Kia Joorabchian, who fronts the two companies that hold Carlos Tevéz’s “economic rights”, Media Sports Investments (MSI) and Just Sports Inc (JSI), will turn up the pressure on West Ham United today when he serves the particulars of claim documents at the High Court, detailing allegations about how the club breached their contract. The companies issued a writ against the club last week, seeking the court’s intervention to compel West Ham to release the registration of Tevéz in accordance with a contract that was agreed last summer when he and Mascherano arrived at Upton Park. Those deals were deemed to be in breach of Premier League rules by a commission that fined West Ham £5.5 million in April. MSI and JSI will ask the court for a quick hearing, arguing that the extensive delay is causing hardship to Tevéz and preventing him from playing football and earning a living.

According to The Times, West Ham United have offered the companies £5 million in exchange for the release of the registration of the player. However, MSI and JSI are likely to reject that proposal because the contract between the parties said that they would pay West Ham £100,000 should Tevéz leave this summer. Matt Scott, writing in The Guardian, states that while the prospect of an out-of-court settlement remains on the table, the fact MSI-JSI are defending their interests so staunchly makes its hard to see how this will materialise. By the same token, the Premier League is concerned with protecting its reputation and it is worried that if West Ham do not receive adequate money from the transfer, it will appear that the third-party agreement between the club and Joorabchian for Tevéz was not ripped up.

If MSI-JSI pursue their legal action against West Ham then Richard Scudamore may face a grilling in the high court. The Premier League chief executive is likely to be subpoenaed to explain the role of the organisation in an increasingly complex legal battle over the ownership of the Argentina forward. Lawyers for the companies are believed to want to know why the League gave West Ham the option of ripping up the contract with Tévez’s owners to allow him to play in the final three games of the season, helping the club to avoid relegation. The League also gave West Ham the option of amending the contracts, which may have meant Tevéz missing at least one match while the paperwork was ratified. The third option was of not playing the forward. The companies’ lawyers will also want to know what communication took place between the League and West Ham in the past year since the League queried how the club had managed to secure the services of Tevéz and Javier Mascherano, Tevéz’s Argentina teammate, so cheaply and whether there were any documents that Scudamore had not seen. In addition, MSI-JSI want to know if any previously undisclosed circumstances prompted the switch of the Hammers' plea from not guilty to guilty at the April disciplinary hearing.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted his protracted pursuit of Carlos Tevez is proving slightly frustrating. "I am not worried because I am confident the player will eventually arrive," he said. "But it has been dragging on and it has become a bit frustrating. At the moment it is going to the High Court. I am sure we will get a final decision on the matter there. But if something happens before that, it is something we would welcome. The deadline is coming up at the end of August, so we do have to think about alternative plans that way. I just want the matter settled, the sooner the better as far as everyone is concerned. I am sure even West Ham think that way. They have their own plans and they have done a lot of buying and selling, so they will want some kind of conclusion in terms of how their team is shaping up."

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