Football Justice Hammered By Double Standards

SIMMERING Boro supporters will rightly feel a deep sense of injustice over the Premier League’s two-faced judgement on West Ham.
The decision by league chiefs NOT to dock points from the Hammers after they were caught bang to right using ineligible players and then lied about it is a kick in the teeth for Boro fans.
It has picked off the scab on a wound to the heart that still hurts after a decade.
And in a game awash with cash the idea that the ‘right and fair’ punishment can be commuted to a heavy fine is tantamount to inviting the rich to bend the rules at will. West Ham changed hands in a £100m buyout earlier this season. A £5.5m fine will be accepted as a reasonable part of the purchase costs if those three points can buy their survival.


The Hammers knew but did not reveal to the authorities that Argentinian duo Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano had not been correctly signed when they arrived in August. They had been loaned to the club by shadowy investment group MSI who owned their previous club River Plate and were trying to buy Upton Park – and who, crucially, retained the pair’s registration.
And then, once questions were raised by the Premier League about the exact nature of their “third partyâ€? ownership – which is categorically against the rules – West Ham engaged in a systematic campaign of deceit to conceal the truth.
Fielding ineligible players brings an automatic three point deduction per game throughout the English pyramid system almost without exception. Every year non-league tables are scattered with asterisks denoting teams docked points for fielding players who have not told their senior club they have picked up a ban in Sunday football, or forget they signed a registration form for another club as cover for pre-season friendly but then never played, or in the case of AFC Wimbledon this season signed and played a lad who had previously turned out for a team in Wales but had not obtained the routine international clearance.
There are almost no grey areas, no exceptions and such cases are rarely overturned on appeal. Even with vast public sympathy and the support of Tony Blair AFC Wimbledon could only knock their punishment down from 18 points (the wrong ‘un played six games) to three. The offence stood and whil the punishment was lessened it was not commuted to a fine.
A points deduction is also the penalty usually considered appropriate for such and offence in the Premier League’s own rulebook – which, as all Boro fans know, was once considered sacrosanct. The panel’s report preamble said:

“The Rules of the FAPL allow us to penalise a club by deducting points and that is a course that we consider would normally follow from such a breach of these rules,â€?

Yet such a punishment was set aside because – get this! – it was considered to have too great an affect on the relegation battle and was unduly harsh on the loyal fans. The judgement said:

“If the impact upon players and fans was to be the overriding consideration, there may never be a deduction of points.â€?

“The fans and the players have been fighting against relegation against the ever-present threat… the efforts and loyalty would be to no avail were we to now deduct points.â€?

Right. So poor West Ham don’t get punished because it may see them pushed back down through the trapdoor and it wouldn’t do to have those chirpy Cockernees upset?
But it was ‘right and fair’ for Boro to be cast into the abyss despite amassing enough points to finish 14th in 1997? Back then Boro were hit with a draconian three point deduction in January that directly contributed to a costly relegation and the subsequent loss of brilliant players like Juninho and Ravanelli and a year’s top flight income. There was no concern back then about the distorting impact on the survival battle nor on the distress to fans.
Worst, the commission admitted the main reason it did not dock West Ham points – as it should have done – was because of the timing and the impact it would have on the table at this late stage. The report said:

“A points deduction, say in January, whilst unwelcome, would have been somewhat easier to bear than a points deduction today which would have consigned the club to certain relegation.â€?

That raises two points. The first is that matter could and should have been pursued in January had it not been for West Ham’s deliberation evasion in dealing with the league’s requests to see the documentation on the deal so it would appear their cynical attempts to frustrate the investigation and avoid justice have been successful.
It also raises major question-marks over the logic of the punishment. In saying they can not wield the ultimate sanction because of the proximity of the relegation battle but may have considered it if West Ham were not still involved, the Premier League appear to suggest they would only dock points if such a punishment had no effect.
That is perverse, invites teams to break the law knowing them will only be punished if it won’t hurt them and is a breach of natural justice. PFA chief Gordon Taylor believes only the precarious position in the league table saved them from being docked points.
In fact, had West Ham been comfortably 12th they would probably be appealing now claiming they should have been docked points and not fined the hefty £5.5m.
The judgement will reinforce the growing impression that the football authorities have an arbitrary notion of what constitutes justice and see it as relative to the perceived status of the offender. There is a glaring contradiction that suggests justice has not been seen to be done in an even handed way.
Wigan boss Paul Jewell – whose side were pulled back into trouble as Tevez starred in a 3-0 win over the Latics – believes the Premier League ‘bottled it’ and that the decision has given the green light to big teams who can afford financial penalties to press ahead with dubious ‘third party’ signings. Indeed, he hinted that some bigger clubs already have taken that step.
West Ham’s beaurocratic survival boost has infuriated their fellow strugglers with Wigan chairman Dave Whelan insisting he will sue the Premier League and demanding reintstatement and compensation if the Hammers stay up at his side’s expense and you can imagine Mohammed al-Fayed and Steve Gibson ready to contact m’learned friends too.
Up to fiv eteams are said to be considering action against the decisions – either through the Premier League or through the courts. A senior official at one of the clubs told the Daily Mail: “It is within the Premier League rules to challenge the decision and we will be looking at it. They said it was a serious breach of rule U18 and, according to the rules, that should carry a points deduction.”
And it will inflames passions on Teesside where it is still widely believed that Boro were given a raw deal. Lest we forget, Boro’s transgressions came when an injury and virus ravaged team failed to fulfill a fixture at Blackburn on December 19.
Keith Lamb had informed the league of Boro’s 23 man sick list and was told there was provision in the rules to call a game off if they could show “just causeâ€? – so they did and then set about proving they had reason to do so.
Boro’s attempts to show ‘just cause’ was rejected by the panel and at an appeal for which they signed on George Carmen QC, who until then had reportedly never lost a case.
But Boro held their hands up to what they had done – indeed, gave the league notice of what they planned – and throughout proceedings they were transparent. The disciplinary panel accepted the club “acted in good faithâ€?. Yet they were hammered.
In contrast, this time round the Premier League panel concluded that West Ham had been “responsible for dishonesty and deceitâ€?.
West Ham’s former chief executive Paul Aldridge “told a direct lieâ€? to the face of league boss Richard Scudamore as he denied back in September that there was “any documentation of any sort in respect of these players which the FAPL had not seen”.
In Boro’s case there was no chicanery, no attempts to circumvent the rules and no attempt to gain a long-term advantage over their rivals – but West Ham broke the rules and lied about it in order to field players they could not afford week-in, week-out.
Mascherano hasn’t set the world alight but the consensus of press pundits and Hammers fans alike has been that Tevez has almost single handedly kept them within reach of safety with his displays since the New Year.
So West Ham could survive thanks to a player who they have broken the rules to buy and covered up the evidence -but the Premier League considers that a lesser crime than calling off an easily rescheduled match because the team has been ravaged by flu.
What will hurt Teessiders not yet hardened to injustice even more is that the ‘ineligible’ player scored against Boro – who are not yet safe – in what could yet be a decisive 2-0 Hammers win last month.
And that having now been allowed to sign the correct paperwork – after the transfer deadline – he could yet get the goals that keep West Ham up. Those of a more nervous “typical Boroâ€? disposition will be now convinced that such survival will be at our expense.
You can read the full Premier League judgement here.
And you can tell them what you think by emailing contactus@premierleague.com

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39 thoughts on “Football Justice Hammered By Double Standards

  1. I just think its all time for us to move on from the 3 points fiasco from 10 years ago. Lets look forward and worry about our club for next season.
    The problem with the westham situation is that they no have new owners. So any punishment like points deductions will get complicated and would throw the premier elague into cause int he summer. The new owners would sue everyone because they were not the ones who did the dirty deed. He would chuck millions at sueing the premier league.
    Basically why shoudl the new owners be penalised for what the previous owners did and they new nothing about?

  2. You just can’t beat a notherners conspiracy theory on southerners. I think this chip on peoples shoulders runs more than just in football but political. north V south.
    They are a prosperous area with increasing population. teesside has a declining population..and so on.

  3. AV – I worked in London and lived in West Ham country for many years. Mates who are West Ham fans all expected to be deducted points.
    In the eyes of my friends, Terence Brown (the London version of Bob Murray) was to blame for most of West Ham’s problems, with most of the players not far behind.
    The one exception has been Tevez (West Ham player of the season) and it now turns out he should not have been allowed to play.
    Prehaps justice will be done on the pitch and the Hammers will lose to Bolton and Man U.
    If West Ham stay up the PL will be looking at some form of legal action to be taken against them during the summer

  4. Well well, surprise surprise! If there were any doubt that the FA are biased against us (Middlesbrough) and biased to the London clubs, here it is.
    Let’s look at the facts:
    -West Ham deliberately broke the rules by knowingly lying when registering the players and then playing them when they were ineligible.
    -Those players then played and helped to secure points for West Ham, which they may not have gained otherwise.
    When we, the Boro, were taken to a tribunal and docked three points it was because we had acted in good faith. We had a genuine reason not to turn up at that match and we were told that we did not have to. In the end, as we all know, we were stitched up.
    What about West Ham, though. They repeatedly used ineligible players. That is surely worse than what we did, isn’t it? We made one mistake, which wasn’t that we didn’t turn up, but to trust those slimy toads at the FA. West Ham, on the other hand, repeatedly offended.
    I would have loved it if West Ham had been docked three points, but had amassed enough points to stay up without a points deduction. Wouldn’t that be sweet!! It would be like some sort of karma for them!
    Think about it, in the 96/97 season after we had had those three points taken off us, Harry Redknapp could not keep his mouth shut. Yes, there were other offenders such as Tony Parkes and to some extent Alan Curbishly, but Redknapp went as far as threatening to start a petition to stop us getting our three points back. And which club was he at at the time? West Ham, of course!
    It would have been just desserts for West Ham and Curbishley and huge Schadenfreude for us Boro fans.
    But no, the FA wouldn’t have that happen to London club would they? Not when that club look they might stay up as easily as going down. Looking at the run in for West Ham, a points deduction would have almost certainly have relegated them.
    Some people would point to the £5.5 million fine as more than enough punishment, but that is pure horse manure. If West Ham stay up, they could get that £40 million TV money that has been widely mentioned. So, their fine is well worth it if they stay up. So what if we got the fine because we fielded ineligible players that helped us gain points. We will now get a TV cash bonanza next season to more than compensate for that.
    I’ve never forgiven Parkes of Redknapp and their huge mouths. To this day, I still can’t stand them to this day.
    Therefore, what I heard him (Redknapp) say on sky sports news about the result of West Ham’s hearing made my blood boil:
    “It wouldn’t have been right to take points off them (West Ham)….it wouldn’t have been fair on the fans to do that, it wasn’t their fault”
    So, Harry, it would have been unfair to West Ham fans to have points taken away from their club, but it was completely fair on the Boro fans to have points taken away from our club? So fair in fact, that you were prepared to start a petition to stop our points being returned?
    Harry, you are indeed an odious man. No wonder Milan Mandaric once said that felt physically sick every time he thought of you. Probably just as sick as we Boro fans feel at the injustices we get on and off the pitch on a regular basis. This, unfortunately, is another.

  5. Alf
    There is one slight flaw in your argument. The current chief executive at West Ham is the chap who kept deceiving the Premier League.
    The other point is that the new owners will have had to do due diligence checks on the club, they should have known about the contracts and the previous dealings with the premier league over these dealings. If they didnt they are guilty of negligence.
    The other point to consider is that they didnt find this wrongdoing and inform the FA. It came out and they were bang to rights and then pleaded guilty.
    I personally have always enjoyed West Ham and the way they tried to play football. I still think ourselves, Bolton, Blackburn would have receieved short shrift.

  6. Alf, your comment is not even worthy of a reply!
    AV, I agree with everything you have to say.
    I have been on a forum on a different site and have spoken to many fans from other clubs who agree that The Hammers should have had a minimum of 3 points deducted (including 2 Hammers fans believe it or not, although they werent complaining). I think a 3 point penalty would be sufficient in this instance. It does however, throw the PL wide open for any misdealings in the future.
    What if Boro, or Everton, or any other team for that matter, signed a couple of top foreigners with the same situation next year? Would they just give us a fine or deduct us points? I think i know what the answer is.
    Surely though, if the same, or similar happened again and a team did get points deducted, they could just point at this scandal and say “they didnt get points taken off them, why should we?”
    I think the PL is making a rod for its own back, especially with a lot of foreign investors coming in who would probably disregard the rules and do exactly the same using this as a perfect excuse. (British Owners could do this too)
    Also, what impact does this have on MSI and Mr Joorabchian? Surely all of his future dealings and the possibility of buying an English club would have to be looked at under a microscope.

  7. How many of you have written to the Premier League about this scandal? I have though haven’t received the coourtesy of even an acknowledgement.
    This is what I wrote:
    ‘As a football supporter, I write to express my abject disappointment with the penalty handed down to West Ham United for its fielding of illegally acquired players.
    It appears that the football authorities have a history of favouring big clubs and particularly those playing in London. By way of example, Tottenham escaped a large fine and a 12 point penalty for illegal payments to players based simply on a defence that the perpetrators were no longer involved in the club and that the club was therefore exonerated. Tottenham, in my opinion, were still the same club and as such should have borne the punishment imposed on the previous administration.
    The West Ham verdict bears all the hallmarks of the Tottenham case. There seems to me to have been some kind of plea bargain from West Ham to ensure that whilst on the face of it, a hefty financial penalty has been imposed, no points deduction was made to further imperil its Premier League survival.
    My club, Middlesbrough, suffered a 3 point deduction for merely failing to fulfill a fixture with no implication of financial or other skullduggery. As well you know, that led to a relegation which ultimately cost Boro much, much more than the paltry £5.5m imposed on West Ham’s billionaire owner.
    I bear no grudge against West Ham but I would say that all football fans ask is for a modicum of even-handedness in the authorities’ dealings. I dread to think what the outcome of a case like this would have been had say, Middlesbrough or Wigan been involved.’
    Get your keyboards into action Boro fans..
    contactus@premierleague.com
    **AV writes: I’ll add that link to the article.

  8. What an absolute insult this is to fans of this football club. I can’t believe the Premier League can so blatantly display such a venomous streak of sheer double standards.
    Cynics out there might argue that this is all part of a great conspiracy to help protect the Premier League status of some of the more ‘aesthetically pleasing’ clubs in the league. I just think they’ve totally fudged up and bricked themselves at the thought of consigning West Ham to Championship football.
    The fact is, this should not have even been a factor up for debate between Premier League hierarchy. When presented with a situation that displays the precedent which resulted in a 3 point deduction for ‘Boro, the meeting with West Ham should have simply been a box-ticking exercise. The only decision that should have derived from it is which one would deliver the news to Mr Magnusson.
    Pundits all over the world cite Premiership football as the most exciting and entertaining league in the world. Sloppyness and inconsistencies behind the scenes make it a laughing stock and ensure we are some way off having the capabilities and common sense to sort our own house out. How do they get away with cobbling together a script worthy of an episode of Dream Team?
    I feel safe in the knowledge that the decision will not play a pivotal part in our season, but this slap in the face is an absolute farce. ‘Right and fair?’…’Yer jokin arn ya’

  9. Alfs point about our points deduction being ten years ago and its time to move on is spot on. We mustn’t dwell on the past.
    That said West Ham should clearly have been deducted points and the FA has behaved disgracefully , no surprise there though. I hope West Ham go down , that would lessen the injustice somewhat.
    **AV writes: If West Ham go down they will appeal against the fine and says it should have been points.

  10. Have boro fans got nothing better to do than complain about being hard done by?
    Add this to the list of whinging about Rome, 3 points, uefa cup final ticket allocation, referees, chemical plant pictures in the press.
    why cant fans put the same amount of effort writing to mr gibson complaining about ticket prices and paying agents £3m?

  11. Like Mick, the fact that it’s West Ham who have escaped appropriate justice makes me feel sick.
    Remember that West Ham:
    1. (via the odious Harry Redknapp) strongly encouraged the FA to reject our appeal in 97
    2. theoretically could still catch us if we lose both our last 2 games.
    Unfortunately Bolton will be in shock after losing Allardyce and United will definitely put out the reserves against them(because of the FA Cup and probable Champions Lge finals). Not that I’m pessimistic or anything…….supporting Boro for 40 years just gives you a different take on fate!

  12. Is it just me getting old and grumpy or has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a general acceptance that to cheat, lie openly, display and brag about bad behaviour and act like a complete fool gets you plaudits and those innocents that try and lead a normal, proper lifestyle with old fashioned standards of behaviour and fair play are looked down upon as mugs.
    Ronaldo – player of the year and Jade Goody – millionaire celebrity icon says it all for me.

  13. The injustice was there for all to see back in 1997.
    Spurs were docked 6 points for financial irregularities and they had all 6 point retrurned on appeal. We had 3 points docke (suggesting a less serious offence) and got nothing on appeal.
    Clearly West Ham are a bigger club than I ever thought possible.

  14. right then, everyone has had a good whinge. What has it achieve or likely to achieve apart from make us all feel better.
    Lets focus back on a poor season by boro and if southgate really is the man to push us on despite taking a few steps back this season. I reckon he is just too soft and nice to be a manager. I think we should have gone for roy keane!

  15. Some say we should forget about what happened 10 years ago or we wouldn’t be complaining if we were not in relegation trouble.
    That is not the point,we should still be complaning even if we had won the premiership title this season.
    The West Ham punishment is ludicrously leniant.My wife is not a football fan and has had serious doubts for some time about how honest football is.I have argued against her point of view but now feel I am losing the argument.
    The increasing number of result changing refereeing mistakes? in favour of the bigger clubs and now this West Ham decision and many other occasions where the punishment seems to depend rather more on who the club is rather than what the offence is making my defence of football look feeble.
    I believe that the only way that the smaller clubs such as Middlesbrough are going to get a fair deal in football will be through the Law Courts.
    Maybe football in the future will be run that way.I for one do not trust the authorities running football and am fast losing my trust for the so called impartiality of referees and their assistants,
    John,
    A very dissilusioned football fan,

  16. Football is now overtly corrupt.
    We have decisions like this, which to any normal thinking person are just plain wrong.
    We have top 4 teams loaning and selling players to teams in the prem and then not allowing them to play against them, resulting in advantage big club.
    We have referees who simply manage matches in favour of the top 4 club. (5 pens against Man U at O/T since the prem started).
    We have managers like Steve Coppell/Neil Warnock fielding weakened teams against the top 4, cos they know they’ve no chance.
    Its not a game anymore its a circus!

  17. Get a grip John,
    If you dont want to watch boro anymore then jsut stop going. You dont need to use a feeble excuse of whats going on at west ham to put you off.
    Where there is money slushing around there will be problems. That included boro.
    If you really want to change things then set up a petition to help persuade people to dump sky

  18. So a new chairman, who had nothing to do with this deal should be punished, the fans who had nothing to do with this deal should be punished.
    Whats wrong with football, is to many moany git’s blaming everyone and everything on their own clubs poor perfomance.

  19. “Its not a game anymore its a circus!”
    i’d like to add..
    It’s not a game any more its a lucrative pension fund

  20. That’s rubbish Clyde. The club deserve to be punished. They had players playing for them that weren’t allowed to play for them and they knew it. All the games in which they played should be valuated as wins for the opposition.

  21. Possession is nine tenths of the law – and the big clubs and Sky have “the Premiership” well and truly in their pocket.
    The entire organisation was created by the big clubs and their threat to break away and take all the TV money. The rules were created by the big clubs. Everything about the games is now rigged in favour of them and the FA, who sold the soul of the game in 1992, are now powerless to stop it.
    Money rules. There is no level playing field. It is about cash, brand, media support and influence. Questions should be asked not just about Macherano playing at West Ham on a dodgy contract but also about how he can then move to Liverpool in direct breech of FIFA laws preventing players signing for more than two clubs in a single season. Why? Well, Duh! Because it’s Liverpool.
    That is not to say West Ham are a “big club” but they do have megarich new owners and a chairman who is one of the biggest bankers in Europe – and therefore a very powerful man – and who bought the club with a Premiership pay day in mind.
    Who would blame him if he took advantage of a weak Premiership that fawns at the feet of money amd power to advance his club and business interests?
    The problem is not the clubs but the political structure of football, a PL which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Club FC and a national body which emasculated itself long ago in order to get a slice of the action.
    The sooner the whole rotten structure collapses the better.

  22. ” I just think its all time for us to move on from the 3 points fiasco from 10 years ago. Lets look forward and worry about our club for next season. ”
    Alf, easy to say this now but just look at Leeds. That could easily have been us after what happened.
    The FA don’t a s**t about anything we fans say. They have a barnstorming end to the season at either end of the league and that’s all they care about.
    The less time we spend discussing those fools at the FA the better as far as I’m concerened.
    TB

  23. the news today says five teams might appeal against this. boro, fulham, sheff utd, wigan, charlton. they should all do it TOGETHER. one action. the prem cant ignore it if a QUARTER of the members say its blatent two faced hipocrisy. if we can get a few other clubs to join in high up the table, clubs who have lost to west ham with tevez playing then this could be the start of bringing the whole rotten rich teamm club down.

  24. “Alf, easy to say this now but just look at Leeds. That could easily have been us after what happened.”
    not really, unless we had a chairman like peter risdale..how he is allowed to control another club is terrible
    Fact is, the fans along with all club chairman were happy to go along with sky and the premier league. If you arnt happy with the current set up then start by stop having sky. Less than 1% of your sky money you pay each month goes into boro’s pockets. at a guess about 60% of it goes towards the top 4. just think you are indirectly helping to make the top 4 stronger and stronger

  25. Is it all a fix ?
    **AV writes: What, you think Boro have connived in all this by habitually under-performing, failing to strengthen in the window and shooting themselves in the foot?

  26. Can’t see how the premier league can use the fact that there’s not long left in the season to justify their decision. West Ham still have the same games to play between August and May and it’s up to them to get the best results possible in that time period. The priority is the correct punishment.
    Besides, their offence was committed in August, ours in December. Our hearing was January and the appeal was late March. We had been up to our necks in the relegation battle since before Christmas.
    Double standards of the highest order. It absolutely stinks!

  27. A well written article Anthony and I feel that the Premier League chiefs need to read it. Have you sent them a copy?
    **AV writes: I haven’t but I think I will. Although I suspect their inbox may already be clogged up with similar opinions.

  28. another good scribe ant but if you waste your time sending it too the morons ooopps p/l big wigs, you are sure not to get a reply as they are too ignorant to do that.
    I for one have cancelled the sky when asked why i told them i was fed up of seeing the same 4 teams over and over the more there on the more they get.
    As about the west ham thing did anyone really expect a london club to get points deducted. and what about the f.a cup were’nt a club kicked out the last one for fielding an illegable player? do we think whu will be banned from the next f.a cup? nope we think not.

  29. Just to correct you, I’m pretty sure the two came from Corinthians & not river Plate as quoted.

  30. I’d like to think that all the teams threatened with possible relegation (excluding West Ham, for obvious reasons) would club together and take their objections to the FA about how West Ham have been let off the hook. Alas, I don’t think they have the bottle to stand up against this blatant disregard of the rules.
    If these teams don’t, collectively, take action, then I’d like to see the team that does go down at the expense of West Ham take the matter further on their own.
    I remember when we didn’t turn up at Blackburn in 1996. The gutter press were clambering over each other to give us a good kicking. TV pundits were self-appointed “experts” on the subject, denouncing us.
    I remember that superprat Sid Twaddell (sic) the darts commentator saying that we should have been fined “a million quid” and that we were a disgrace. The Scum (sic) had front page condemnations of us for goodness sake. But, ask yourself, who has, in the press or other media, given West Ham a good kicking?
    It’s almost enough to induce a paranoia that leads you to believe that back in 96/97, the press and media were trying their best to hammer the point home that we were very much in the wrong and that the FA were correct.
    That way, who, outside of Teesside, would be on our side? Who, outside of Teesside, really knows the whole story? The press and media campaign would seem to have worked a treat. They were probably delighted to have the opportunity to have a go.
    Think about it, they were jealous that we were attracting the likes of Ravanelli, Juninho, Emerson etc. That’s not allowed! “Don’t you realise that that you are privileged to just be in the premiership and you should be happy with survival”. It must be admitted, the amount of hateful, nasty bile directed in our direction back then seemed to come at us as if the dam holding it back had been burst by the Blackburn incident.
    That we received ill treatment from the media then and West Ham are not receiving it now, I think, is making life a lot easier for them. Imagine if they were getting the same as what we did? Would the FA feel so self-righteous right now? Would they feel as self-righteous as they probably did in ’97, having the media vindicate their biased ruling?
    I wonder how we would stand if we (the Boro), on our own, took legal action? Imagine if West Ham stay up because they didn’t have a points deduction. Could a court of law decide that we had been treated unfairly because, ultimately, we were relegated for a much lesser offence?
    Could we sue for damages? Imagine how much that would be? How would you calculate it? I mean, it isn’t just the loss of money for one season, it’s the loss of money over several. We lost TV money, Juninho, Ravenelli, Emerson (which accounts for a lot of merchandise, plus we may have commanded a greater fee for Juninho if were still in the PL, not that we would have sold him).
    We, apparently, had we stayed up, had a list of top players lined up to join us. The players were reported to be Davor Suker, Roberto Carlos, Paul Gascoigne, Paul Merson etc. That, of course, is conjecture. We know that Merson and later on, Gazza, did join the club, but the rest may or may not have done. We’ll never know; but then again it may have happened. Why not? We had already just signed the Brazilian player of the year and an Italian international who had just won the Champions League with Juventus (scoring in the final no less). We were going places. Yes, we ended up relegated, but had we retained those three points, we would have ended the season fourteenth and safe! Who knows where we could have gone from there?
    It would be extremely difficult to put a monetary figure on it (for compensation), but in terms of the distress and heartache to fans (which we know was considerable), we also have a case.
    I would love to see the Boro have the balls to go to court over this. If not them, how about the fans (for the reasons given above)! I’m no legal expert, but couldn’t we take some action against the FA? I think we’d have a case, after all, it wasn’t fair on the fans to take three points away, was it Harry Redknapp?
    What to you think AV?
    **AV writes: The club appear to be distancing themselves from the mess, at least publicly. That could be because they don’t want to be opened to accusations of being bitter or bearing grudges (even if they have every right).
    It could equally be cause having seen how the system works – not just with the three points but also over the Ziege contract busting by Liverpool – they have no faith whatsoever in football’s ability to police itself.
    The problem with taking things to law is that ultimately clubs are voluntarily members of the Premiership and when they join they agree to abide by the rules – one of which prevents members taking legal action against the organisation at risk of suspensionm and expulsion.
    So clubs have painted themselves into a corner in accepting rules in essence drawn up by a group of powerful clubs to advance their money-making opportunities. By comparision the FA looks democratic, transparent and egalitarian.
    That is why clubs must sue other clubs rather than the central body, why Boro took Liverpool to the Hight Court for compensation over Ziege rather than the Premier League for not enforcing their own rules.
    That is a costly and lengthy business and if a club goes down at West Ham’s expense then they must get the calculators out and decide if litigation is cost effective or whether biting their tongue and spending £10m on getting repromoted immediately is more cost effective.
    On the issue of media coverage it should be noted that there are so many West Ham fans among the national press corps that you half expect press boxes across the land to spontaneously burst into ‘Bubbles’ and the tabloids to switch their mastheads from red to claret and blue.

  31. Thanks for the reply, AV.
    Well, the Premier League has provided itself with carte blanche, it seems. They can act with impunity and don’t have to answer to anyone.
    But, what about what the Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman? He took on UEFA over what he believed to be restrictive rules, hindering the free movement of players to ply their trade wherever they see fit. One man against UEFA and we all know now that he won, which changed the way transfer system works.
    Would it be possible to take the premier league to court on the basis that they are, in reality, running a dictatorship? Yes, the clubs did join of their own volition, but in reality they had Hobson’s choice; either agree to the rules or be left on the outside looking in.
    I’ll try to make an analogy using an employee at work. If that employee was handed a new contract, which had a clause stating that should they, for any reason, feel the need to take action against the company, they cannot take said company to court (or take any legal action for that matter) and he/she signed it. Could they be held to that?
    What I mean is, isn’t their a law against such restrictions? If the company were culpable for something, for whatever reason, in this country you would expect to be allowed to take action against that company and a clause in your contract stating that you can’t, I would have thought, would not stand up.
    In the same respect, I would have thought that even though the Premier League have placed such a restriction on clubs, that wouldn’t stand up; legally they wouldn’t be allowed to expel you from the league (unfair dismissal, as would be the case if you or I were unfairly dismissed from our jobs).
    If that isn’t the case (in British law), I’m sure that it could be taken to the European Court of Justice. Bosman did and look what happened.
    It’s just a thought, AV, but I would love to know if something could be done. I want the very best for Boro, but I think we are getting the very worst from the Premier League.
    This league is becoming far too segregated. At the top, you have four teams who are moving away from the rest leaving a great chasm between them and us.
    Think back to ’96; we believed our signings would propel us into the top six, maybe better. We were competing for top players and we could afford to. We believed that, one day soon, we would be challenging the top teams. What would it take to challenge the top teams these days? An extremely rich sugar daddy with deep pockets, it would seem, but even then, it would help to have the premier league on your side (would we ever have that?).
    Either that, or an extremely good youth academy, where you could build your own team, with lots of time and patience needed.
    My question to you, AV, or indeed anyone out there, is this: is it possible for the Boro to take action against the premier league? If the risk of that is too great, i.e. the threat of suspension or expulsion, which would affect us too greatly in the short term while fighting the case, could the Boro fans get together and take it to the High Court in this country or even to the European Court?
    I think that, if there were enough fans prepared to come on board because they thought we had a chance, which of course would have to be verified by someone with the relevant knowledge of law, we could take it on.
    We would of course, need the backing of a sizeable number fans (due to the cost of legal representation), but I’m sure the Boro fans will be up for getting justice.
    What do you think, AV?
    **AV writes: There is no question that the law of the land – especially employment law – takes precedence over the rules of football but the catch 22 is that the rules of football do not allow a club to challenge the governing body using the laws of the lands.
    It is part of FIFA statute that any club which takes legal action against its own association is suspended from competition. That was designed to stop big clubs in weak national leagues using weak courts to, for instance, over-rule relegation. That make sense to give the associations some modicum of protection.
    I believe the rule was brought to Boro’s attention when they considered legal action to challenge the way the three points appeal process changed the perameters of the case, a dark hint dropped.
    The theat of suspension is the reason FA and PL rulings are not challenged. Yes, you may win in court 18 months down the line but in the meantime the club is suspended from football, loses players, loses income and possibly loses league status all together. Who will take that risk?
    That is why all the fundamental changes in the political structure of football have come from individual challenges to the governing bodies – George Eastham’s stand against the clubs right to retain a player’s registration, Jean Marc Bosman etc. Individuals are protected by law and take action without sanction when a club or an association infringes their legal rights.
    But that can only be on individual employment. Possibly, if say Fulham were relegated, there may be a case for a player to sue the PL for loss of earnings. Maybe.
    I hope it comes to that to be honest because it may provoke a political crisis that breaks the PL and brings in a more transparent, accountable and ultimately fair system of administration.

  32. Thanks for the reply, AV.
    Ok, if it is too risky for the club to take action themselves, how about the fans? That way, it is not the club taking direct action, so how can we be expelled (the Boro) because of the actions of our fans?
    I noted that in today’s newspaper, Dave Whelan (Wigan chairman), is reportedly willing to spend £70 million in legal costs to fight the ruling handed to West Ham. He, for obvious reasons, disagrees with the punishment West Ham have received and is going to take action against the Premier League.
    In another article, Sheffield United, Charlton, Fulham and Wigan are all planning legal action against the Premier League.
    If any of the events mentioned above takes place, Boro should take note; there may be a possibility, if the team(s) taking action are successful, that we might be able to take legal action too.
    One other thing in the newspaper of note is the Tim Howard situation. Without going into too much detail, if Man Utd did have points docked, there would be major fall out. I can’t see that happening, but if it did, Man Utd could take legal action themselves. What is the Premier League going to do? Kick Man Utd out, one of the biggest draws in the PL?
    If there were any wrong doing and the Premier League do nothing to Man Utd, we will all say it is another case of preferential treatment, i.e. only London clubs, Man Utd and Liverpool would get away with this. If Man Utd are punished with a points deduction, then they will have grounds to take legal action along with other clubs at the bottom of the table.
    It’ll be interesting to see how things develop. I hope those people in charge at the Boro, i.e. Steve Gibson et al, are paying attention to what is going on.
    As you can probably tell, I am desperate to see Boro get justice and to see West Ham get what’s coming to them. What do you think about what I’ve written? Do you have any better ideas of what can be done, AV? Does anyone else have any thoughts on the matter?

  33. a worrying thought if the clubs take the p/l on and win, would the p/l then think hang on we’ve got trouble makers here and down they go next season. it has been proven how easy it is too cheat in footie.
    i feel sorry for wigan because they seem too be the team going through the trap door with charlton and watford.
    if you took off the goals and assists from tevez where would the hammers be? we know now that man utd will have weakend team out next sunday so it will be wigan or sheff utd going down.

  34. I take it you have no thoughts on my last post, AV?
    **AV writes: Sorry, it’s been a busy weekend.
    I’m not sure how many individual clubs would be ready to take action. It is a long and expensive business and as Boro found in the Ziege case, you don’t make a lot of friends and even you win a symbolic victory you rarely get full recompense.
    I think for many clubs locked into the system it is easier to bite their tongues and not rock the boat so long as the cash cow is paying out. And if you are in that position then you are probably not powerful enough to win the big political battles when they come your way.

  35. Never happy, I think that that explanation is just an excuse they have cooked up in order to try to make them (the PL) look as if it were taking the best course of action all round and that they were thinking into the future and how this would impact on other clubs.
    This was just an afterthought. They are probably anticipating a backlash and they have pre-empted that by putting out this horse manure.
    If they really believed that docking points would have a bearing on the title race they should have waited until the end of the season and then held the tribunal. If West Ham are then docked points and relegated then so be it.
    The truth is, the PL didn’t want to dock West Ham points because they are a London club; simple as that. The PL are now back-tracking in the hope that everyone will accept their lame excuses. Why should West Ham, supposedly, benefit from the teams involved in the title race, who have nothing to do with the case? It’s a disgrace!
    One last thing, AV, I’d still like to know what you think about the chances of success if the FANS took legal action independantly, with no direct backing from the club?
    **AV writes: If fans took action? Chance of success: Nil.
    On what grounds could they take action? Their relationship to a club is as a consumer and the product has still been delivered. A fan has no relationship to the Premier League so there would be next to no grounds for any legal action.
    As consumers there is little you can do other than boycott the product. And the problem then is organisation.
    The only “realistic” avenue is probably a club sueing another – ie if Wigan go down they took action against West Ham claiming the Hammers willful malpractice and conscious rule breaking damaged their own commercial actvities and resulted in a loss of revenue. The problem there is that football is not governed by law but by the ruling bodies which have already dealt with the offence.
    The real route forward is government regulation of football creating a watchdog with teeth and making the game transparent and accountable and answerable in law to what are now considered only breechs of the rules of a gentlemans’ club.

  36. Thanks of the reply, AV.
    Let’s hope whoever does relegated at West Ham’s expense do take action and if they do, I hope Boro take note…………….

  37. Lets hope Ferguson is as good as his word and puts out his strongest team on Saturday.
    If Man U put West Ham to the sword in the first half, Sheff U can do the decent thing and lose 1 – 0 to Wigan.
    If this happens then as AV has already mentioned, the only appeal will come from West Ham, who will ask for a points deduction and not a fine.

  38. ‘If Man U put West Ham to the sword in the first half, Sheff U can do the decent thing and lose 1 – 0 to Wigan.’
    Yes, lets hope a team cheats and call it the decent thing.

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