Thursday, 5 July 2007

Innocent or Whitewash

Another independent committee has decided that no further action should be taken against West Ham and there should be no reprieve for Sheffield United. Can anyone be surprised at this decision? If the tribunal had ruled against West Ham and relegated them then the summer would continue with West Ham taking the Premier League to court, so that by August 11th we still may not have known who was relegated and who was saved.

Of course, as Charlton fans we have no vested interest anymore, after all we had been relegated through our own volition. However, as a member of the so called gang of four we should still be able to comment on the result.

To be fair on the committee their decision was that they would not change the decision of the previous committee, but that if it had been them originally they would probably have docked points.

Sheffield United still intend to pursue the decision, but their Premier status has now been confirmed as over. Sheffield have a High Court hearing on whether to appeal on 13 th July, I think the basis of their hearing is that the 2nd committee should have returned the verdict to the original committee.

There is no fault to be laid at the door of West Ham if the regulators are going to let them get away with breaching the rules, then why not breach them. Some West Ham supporters argue that the £5 million fine is sufficient punishment, a record fine, however with Tevez being touted at £20 million plus, then the £5 milion will represent nothing more than a transfer fee that has been quadrupled in a season. Incidentally, the original "owners" of Tevez still claim to be his owners and have claimed that the ending of the agreement was one sided, so maybe that one will end up in court and if the original owners do win, then West ham have continued to be in breach. The League have stated that any transfer negotiations for Tevez, must go through West ham, which is an interesting statement, as it implies doubt in the minds of the League over the ownership of Tevez.

Another argument is that West ham are under a new regime and should not be punished for the acts of their predecessors. If you look to the world of business then this is a spurious argument. When you buy a business you buy its assets and its liabilities and it is the buyers responsibility to identify those liabilities and this is done through the due diligence process. If the seller has not revealed something that later becomes material to the buyers position then the buyer has legal redress against the seller. Magnusson had the responsibility for identifying that the Argentinian freebies were legit, if his due diligence was poor thats his fault no one elses.

But as I said West Ham got away with it and whilst not coming up smelling of roses, you cannot blame them. So where does the blame lie. It is very hard to feel that the same decision would have been given if the offense had been by Charlton, Sheffield United or Wigan, unfashionable clubs with little political clout. There won't be but there should be serious investigation in the corridors of The Premier League and The FA, new directives and rules should be issued so that no Club should benefit from the timing in a season of a decision, nor should the committee have recourse to the impact on the Clubs fans, the responsibility of the Clubs fans should fall in the lap of the offending Club. Certainly lying to the authorities should have an immediate and mandatory penalty deduction, say 3 points minimum which may be implemented during the current or future season at the discretion of the committee.

No body has come out of this looking good, West Ham, The Premier League, Sheffield United or the remainders of gang of four, who have disappeared off the face of the earth.
At least in the Football League when the rules were recently bent to avoid a future points deduction the following season the Football League have acted and chaged the regulations so that in future, Leeds and Boston like Clubs cannot do the same, there has been no movement by either the FA or the Premier League to make sure that this does not happen again.

Of course, the further away from last season we get the less relevant the Tevez affair becomes and after a 5-0 drubbing of Scunny we'll all have our minds focussed elsewhere and this sorry affair will be forgotten and the FA and Prem. pratts will have disappeared back to their plush offices to bleed more money out of the game.