Wednesday, 1 August 2007

The Smoking Gun

The Carlos Tevez saga took a dramatic twist in the high court yesterday when West Ham United's lawyers challenged the authenticity of a document presented by Media Sports Investment and Just Sports Inc. The document, filed at a depositions hearing, was sent by Eggert Magnusson to Kia Joorabchian on 1 December after he had examined the nature of the Tevez deal which would ultimately end in a record £5.5million fine for its "third-party" element that broke Premier League rules. The West Ham chairman, who had then only gained control of the club 10 days earlier, drew up the contract. It made amendments to the original third-party deal agreed last summer when Tévez and Javier Mascherano arrived at Upton Park. The new agreement was signed by Scott Duxbury, the club’s deputy chief executive who was legal director at the time, and proposed that on July 1 Tevez would be released from the club and stipulated that, if he remained at Upton Park, MSI-JSI would have to make payments that would effectively cover his wages.

The emergence of the new document is potentially explosive as West Ham, under pressure from Sheffield United's claims that Tevez should not have been allowed to continue playing for the club at the end of last season, insisted in a statement on July 19 that no other contracts relating to his ownership were in existence. The Premier League’s independent commission also said that one reason for not deducting points from the club was because the new owners should not be penalised for the misdemeanours of a previous regime. MSI-JSI consider the document central to their breach-of-contract case against the Hammers, in which they demand that Tevez be freed from his obligations with West Ham and permitted to move to Manchester United. Joorabchian's lawyers say the Dec 1 contract proves Magnusson and the club agreed to let the player go once the season ended. West Ham say the document was rescinded and its terms were never executed because it was not countersigned by Tevez and they had not received copies of the countersigned agreements. But the copy of the document filed at yesterday's hearing was furnished with dates and signatures, prompting West Ham's challenge over its authenticity.

West Ham insist that, although the document has now been signed by Joorabchian and Tevez, it was not signed in December, meaning it was invalid. West Ham add that the unsigned document was sent to the Premier League in February, and that the signed version of the contract only emerged in June. Their line is backed by the Premier League, who say they received an "unexecuted" copy of the contract ahead of the independent commission which fined West Ham £5.5 million for breaking rules on third-party ownership in April. West Ham are to call graphologist and forensic experts to try to prove the Dec 1 contract was not signed at the time it was drawn up. Acting for West Ham, Michael Bowsher QC, said: "The signatures of these individuals other than those signatures from West Ham were not made on the date purported to be made and that is relevant. The date purports to be Dec 1 2006 but it seems to be very much later and likely to be a recent development." Joorabchian's lawyers are expected to argue that it is irrelevant when it was signed and that the contract was "active".

The court's decision could come down to the exact date that the December 1 deal was signed by Tevez. It was confirmed yesterday that the 23-year-old player will himself be called to give evidence in the case. He is expected to be cross-examined on exactly when the contract was signed. After the independent commission handed down their judgement, Tevez was switched to a four-year deal and the original illegal third-party agreement was discarded. West Ham have claimed that this would entitle them to any transfer fee generated.

1 comment:

RapidHammer said...

I don't think that the document presented by Joorabchian is that bad for West Ham's legal position. If it's true that it was not signed by MSI-JSI and Tevez in december the amendment which had been proposed by West Ham has not been agreed. Eggert Magnusson's position to to claim more than £100,000 for Tevez's transfer is neither illegal nor "immoral". The agreement proposed by West Ham in December last year would have been based on a situation which was totally different from the situation after WHUFC got fined by the PL and had managed the "great escape". If Joorabchian would have agreed this amendment in December there would not have been any breech of the "third party-rule" anymore and the amount of the fine would by all probability have been much less than £ 5,5 mio. By the way the agreement would have made sense in december when Tevez had not scored (but the proposal was rejected). West Ham would never have made such a proposal half a year later! I think WHUFC have the right to claim for more because Tevez has become used to the PL (and become a legend!) during his time at Upton Park - ManU didn't want to sign him last year!


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