Thursday, September 25, 2008

West Ham, Carlos Tevez Ruling
a Dangerous Precedent

Other things Carlos Tevez is responsible for:

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Goldman Sachs, AIG, cicadas, Hurricane Ike and this nasty scratch on my arm.

If he's the sole reason Sheffield United was relegated, then surely, he's the reason all those oil refineries shut down in the Gulf of Mexico and gasoline hovers near $3.75 a gallon where I live. It's his fault my 401K is shit and why hundreds of bean counters are collecting unemployment today.

Surely it's his fault. Just ask the geniuses who applied the most flawed of change logic models to Sheffield United's arbitration hearing. Sheffield was relegated on the final day of the 2006-07 season as Tevez potted the game-winner at Manchester United to seal Sheffield's fate in the standings. Earlier West Ham had been fined 5.5 million pounds for fielding Tevez and Javier Mascherano who were declared ineligible because of some shady and complicated transfer machinations.

Sheffield officially went down because of Tevez's final-day heroics, but surely there had to be a dozen other games that season where some striker missed a sitter, or some defender blew coverage on a corner that cost the team points. The absurdity of the ruling and the compensation reportedly headed to the club is criminal.

Martin Samuel in the Times of London today brilliantly lays it out with an appropriate dash of sarcasm, wit and biting truth. He shines a dim light on the tribunal led by The Right Honorable The Lord Griffiths that made this decision. It's a must read; here's a taste:

"Yesterday, a tribunal led by Griffiths found that one player - Carlos Tévez - had decided the Premier League relegation issue in 2006-07, as fact. Not as opinion. Not with any vague doubt that the hundreds of other footballers, managers and coaches who were involved might have had some impact, too. Not with any pretence to evaluate their presence. Griffiths said that Sheffield United went down because of Tévez. He, and two friends, then replayed the season in their mighty minds and, despite all of this action taking place in a hypothetical dimension, prepared to hand down a finite punishment, payable in hard cash. Be warned, this is what happens when you invite lawyers to the party."

More importantly, what Samuel lays out later in the piece is that the precedent has been set that relegation could be taken away from being decided on the pitch. Last Sunday's Reading-Watford fiasco where referee Stuart Atwell awarded Reading a phantom goal on a sequence that no more threatened the Watford goal than I did from here 3,000 miles away.

So what happens if Reading keeps another team from promotion to the Premier League by one point, as Samuel asks? Back to the courts we go? What happens if a hard foul costs a club its star player and said club falls 3 points short of the Premiership title? Lawyers on speed dial?

The sheer idiocy of this situation is stunning. Sports is supposed to be self-regulated, and to go outside long-established perimeters is disrespectful to the game, fans and obscene. Shame on Sheffield United for pursuing this in the courts, and shame on the FA for not exerting more pressure to put a halt to this fiasco. The line in the sand has been drawn, and this situation just invites anyone to step right over it.

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9lives said...

Well written article. I take the viewpoint that the initial ruling was wrong, that a club who broke the rules should have been deducted points. Middlesbrough called off a game about 11 years ago because they had a depleted squad through illness. They were punished with a 3 point deduction that contributed to their relegation.

One cannot of course state with any degree of accuracy that a player contributed any more than his potential replacement might have. But that's why rules are there; to maintain an equal playing field and a degree of fairness.

With regards to Atwell's shocking decision last weekend, it's accepted that these decisions even themselves out over the season. All we can do is accept that flawed logic. The Sheffield United case is different - they never had the opportunity to "even" the playing field by recruiting a player who was not entitled to play for them.


Yommie said...

I think West Ham has to pay the #30 million. If points had been deducted from them, they wouldn't have played in the premiership. 30 million pounds is a small price to pay for fielding a player that isn't supposed to play and also responsible for keeping them in premiership. I have no doubt on Tevev influence on Hammer's survival.

il dotore said...

West Ham without Tevez playing were:
Pld 12 W 4 D 3 L 5
West Ham with Tevez playing:
Pld 26 W 8 D 2 L 16