What a strange week it’s been for Sheffield United fans. Well over a year since their controversial relegation from the Premiership, an independent tribunal rules in their favour over the West Ham/Carlos Tevez affair. The tribunal found that Tevez earned at least three points for the London club in the run-in to the end of the season, thereby keeping them up at the expense of the Blades.
United can’t be reinstated to the Premier League but it’s been reported they are demanding around £30million in compensation. Jubilant Blades fans have already started spending the cash, and given their lowly position in the Championship, such a boost to the coffers would come in very handy in the January transfer window.
However, fast forward to Tuesday night and a visit to the Emirates Stadium in the third round of the Carling Cup. With an average age of 19, Arsenal completely destroyed United, scoring six without reply. The club and its supporters were brought back down to earth with a bump and the gulf in class could hardly have been wider. The tantalizing promise of tens of millions of pounds seems a hollow victory in the light of such a stark reminder of how far behind United now are.
Unless you manage to get straight back up, relegation from the Premiership is a disaster for football clubs. They immediately lose money, players, stature and, in many cases, fans. It takes a long time to recover from that and most don’t manage it. I don’t have a particular axe to grind for Sheffield United or against West Ham but why some clubs’ offences are penalized by deductions of up to 25 points, while in this case no points deduction was applied, seems grossly unfair. The Premier League can’t have expected this case to go so far, or for United to have emerged victorious, and they must take responsibility for the affair and ensure no other clubs have to go through a similar situation again.