They reckon bad news comes in threes, but West Ham have had three bits of bad news today alone. If Newcastle United’s situation wasn’t erring on the wrong side of ridiculous then there would be a lot of pointing and laughing in the direction of Upton Park at the moment.
You will recall the Hammers are currently without a sponsor since travel company XL.com went bust, leaving a gaping hole on Dean Ashton’s bust. Then there was the tribunal ruling that Sheffield United were entitled to compensation, possibly up to £30 million, for the damage caused to them by Carlos Tevez’s excellent end-of-season form in 2007. And Carlton Cole was arrested on suspicion of drink driving in central London in the early hours of yesterday morning. So now the latest developments….
Perhaps the most shocking development, although given the meandering course around the surreal that the Tevezcherano scandal is taking perhaps nothing should be surprising, is that individual Sheffield United players have taken legal advice and are considering suing West Ham for the financial impact being relegated had on them personally. At least 10 Blades players have consulted with a lawyer about possible legal action which, if successful, would leave the club paying Premier League wages to 10 players who don’t even belong to them.
Blow number two is that the Hammers supposed appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is doomed before it has even begun. The appeal was West Ham’s planned escape route from paying the compensation to Sheffield United. However, the Lausanne court’s general secretary, Matthieu Reeb, told BBC Sport that the appeal could not be heard in the court without the Blades’ permission.
He said: “As things stand, CAS would not be able to hear this case. We would need agreement from Sheffield United and for Football Association rules to allow an appeal to CAS.” The Hammers are reportedly currently drafting a letter to the court.
And blow number three of the day – the worst short-term blow – is an on-field problem. Rarely fit striker Dean Ashton is injured once again. The England international will be out for around a month with an ankle problem. He is to have surgery on the injury which has given him problems since August 2006. So not only will he be unavailable for the opening weeks of Gianfranco Zola’s reign, it will also act as a possible deterrent to clubs who might have stumped up some of the cash if West Ham do end up paying compensation to Sheffield United.
What a week for the Hammers.