Wednesday, July 04, 2007


East End Tango - update

So the long-running West Ham v. Sheffield United saga is at an end (or so it seems).

Of course, it ended up being Sheffield United v. the Premier League, after the latter had failed to dock West Ham points over the transfer irregularities concerning Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano (now at Liverpool). Certainly, it looked, at the time, a case for points deduction. Certainly, the Premier League's argument that it would be "unfair on the fans" for West Ham to be hit with a points deduction so late in the season was very weak. But the fact that there was no precedent for such a case is probably what forced the tribunal hearing Sheffield United's case to dismiss it, despite their stated sympathy for the Yorkshire club, and their strong censure for West Ham.

What amazes me in all this is that the Premier League did not make a more thorough investigation into the transfers at the time. As I wrote, the duo's move to the Hammers occurred in highly suspicious circumstances; although, apparently, it is not against Premier League rules for club players to be part-owned by other entities (perhaps they should have a look at that one), it was the ceding of some transfer rights to the companies lurking in the background that constituted the breach of the rules.

Given all the speculation and suspicion that surrounded the arrival of the Argentine duo at the time, did the Premier League really take a close enough look at the paperwork back in August?

Middlesbrough have suggested, with some justice, that the misdemeanour for which they were docked three points in 1997 was far less heinous. On our own shores, the salary cap breaches for which Sydney FC had three points deducted seem pretty mild by comparison to West Ham's "deception" over Tevez and Mascherano (the ceding of rights to a third party almost certainly would have allowed the club to acquire the two players for way under the odds - therein lies the real crime).

The ₤5.5 million dollar fine, handed down to West Ham instead of a points deduction, is virtually insignificant compared to the increased revenue they will receive through staying in the Premiership.

I don't feel the Premier League has emerged from the whole affair with any credit.

I think what Sydney FC did was worse. A salary cap is meant to artificially assist in providing league parity. Sydney breached that parity. There is no such thing as parity in the EPL. Clubs spend what they want. It doesn't diminish what West Ham did and I think they should have lost points also.
Two things, firstly I wonder how much the takeover by Eggert Magnússon influenced the decision not to dock points. After all Sheffeild United would not be able to bring the same injection of cash to the premier league as West Ham. If it had been a poorer club the cynic in me suspects that points would have been deducted immediately.

Secondly Sydney didn't delibrately breach the salary cap, they included payment for off feild commitments which, according to Sydney, could not be completed due to the ocianian and world club championships. That could all be bullshit but it was the club itself that brought the breaches to the attention of the FFA whereas in West Hams case they tried to hide their crime.

Either way docking points is the way to go it's the only way to convince the richer clubs that they can't buy their way out of trouble.
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