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The Sheffield United – Premier League arbitration report and West Ham’s impossible position

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For those of you unfamiliar with the exact events that took place after the 27 April West Ham hearing and the subsequent response by the FA Premier League in the following 2 weeks, this will surprise you.

Before we start though, you might want to scroll to the bottom and download the attached document so that you can follow the chain of events.

1. West Ham serve notice of termination, all parties refuse to agree

West Ham serve a notice of termination of contract to both MSI and JSI as well as Carlos Tevez. Both owning parties refuse to agree to the termination, and so does Carlos Tevez (who refuses to even acknowledge the receipt of such a notice).

Exact reply of the solicitor for MSI and JSI:

“I acknowledge receipt of your email and the purported ‘notice of termination’ . I shall take my clients’ instructions, in the meantime all my clients’ rights remain fully and expressly reserved.”

In English, that means that the termination was NOT agreed to by the third parties.

See points 46 to 49 of the attached document.

2. Premier League accepts the situation

The FA Premier League instruct West Ham that they have satisfied the requirements of the Board and that Tevez is free to play, however the Board may review the situation pending new developments and/or if the termination is challenged.

This was a decision taken on the night of 27th April by Mr Foster and Mr Scudamore, without recourse to legal counsel.

See #50.

3. When challenged, Premier League asks West Ham to defend their stance fully

On 4th May Sheffield United, Charlton, Fulham and Wigan Athletic challenge the FAPL’s decision and ask for proof of termination. In response FAPL take legal counsel and in essence, tell West Ham that the current arrangement may suggest that the FAPL had allowed the third-party agreements to stay in place and as a result instruct West Ham to do the following:

  • Copy FAPL in all correspondence so that the FAPL can be in a position to monitor the situation fully.
  • While West Ham may be sued as a result, they must maintain the position that the contracts were terminated and that they must act accordingly.
  • If sued, West Ham must defend themselves fully and not settle or resolve the matter by accepting the validity of the contracts.
  • If West Ham does not agree to this, FAPL would reconsider the validity of Tevez’s registration.

See #51to 53.

These points are taken from the Arbitration Award document in the case of Sheffield United and FA Premier League, which can be downloaded here (right-click, save as – 800kb+) (credit to SL reader and forum member Tauren for pointing me to this doc, originally found on the FAPL website).

The whole document makes for interesting but dense reading, and the most interesting factoid of them all is that while the Arbitration Panel considers that the Disciplinary Commission was wrong in not deducting points from West Ham, it was still with the remit of their powers and therefore a legal decision.

Looking through the events stated above, all I can say without bias creeping in is that yes, the Premier League and West Ham attempted to make the best out of an extraordinary set of circumstances, but that the Premier League made the very serious mistake of not taking legal counsel before accepting the current status on 27th April as told to them by West Ham.

A lot has already been said over this, so I won’t rehash but I have to say that the situation is one that the Premier League has progressively worsened by not taking immediate and proactive measures to fix the situation. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, and no one could expect West Ham to win their last 3 games and avoid relegation.

But if the FAPL was acting under the expectation that Sheffield United would stay up and the matter would blow over then that stance is the organisational equivalent of sticking your head up your ass, sniffing around and calling it a beautiful spring morning.

Bullshit is bullshit, and not only have the FAPL been criminally lazy, they have also pushed forward a lot of bullshit in defense of their actions.

Attached file (.pdf): Arbitration Award – Sheffield United vs Premier League (3rd July 2007)

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.