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Will West Ham Be Relegated?


John Simkin
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Martin Samuel, News of the World (June 16, 2007)

THE Campaign for Fairness in Football gets its day in court tomorrow.

High on publicity and puffed up with righteous indignation, Sheffield United will hit town to demand reinstatement to the Premier League at the expense of West Ham, for a breach of the infamous rule U18. It is only fair, they will argue.

So let us look at what else Sheffield United would appear to believe is fair — because now it gets interesting.

Sheffield United think it is fair that they can sell striker Steve Kabba to Watford for £500,000, yet keep him.

Sheffield United think it is fair that he should play against three of the teams that were in the relegation mix in the last month of the season, but not them.

Sheffield United think it is fair that they should paint themselves as whiter than white, while officially admitting entering into an arrangement contravening the third party interference ruling that is at the heart of tomorrow's arbitration hearing.

Sheffield United have some serious questions to answer.

Ethics

Like at what point were they going to explain the strange circumstances surrounding Kabba's deal.

Like how they account for official club information stating Kabba could not play against his former club because of a clause that was part of his permanent transfer and would, therefore, be illegal.

Like how they can keep up the pretence that there is one set of villains in this story, West Ham, and all the other characters display the business ethics and demeanour of the lovechildren of Bob Cratchit and Mary Poppins.

In reality, they are motley crew, this Campaign for Fairness in Football.

Mohammed Al Fayed, chairman of Fulham, is a supporter. His transfer market activities were believed so fair that in January 2004, his club was temporarily suspended from the international market by FIFA over unpaid debts on the Steve Marlet deal.

Similar action was threatened over the transfer of Louis Saha. "I am a man of principle," he says.

Then there is Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whe*an. He would know much about the boundaries of fairness having been fined £5.5m by the Office of Fair Trading for fixing the price of England and Manchester United shirts at his company JJB Sports.

Finally, spearheading the movement is that vested interest on legs, fair-minded Sheffield United plc chairman Kevin McCabe, who wants to re-referee the match after it has been played, to achieve the precise result needed for his team to win.

It is no longer suggested that West Ham should merely have points deducted, because a two-point penalty would not save McCabe's club.

A very specific punishment is required now — three points — the amount needed to keep Sheffield United up on goal difference and send West Ham down. McCabe has sanctimoniously demanded the league be adjusted on moral grounds in June, forgetting the skeleton in his own cupboard — 5ft 10in of striker, sold by Sheffield United to Watford on the condition he could not come back to haunt them.

March

Kabba played 14 out of 15 games for Watford immediately after his move. He played in a 1-0 win against West Ham, and 1-1 draws with Wigan and Manchester City.

But he couldn't feature in the defeat to Sheffield United on April 28 — because, according to Sheffield's website, his former club would not let him.

Manchester United insisted on a similar arrangement when goalkeeper Tim Howard moved to Everton — but at least chief executive David Gill did not march on Parliament bleating about fairness, when all the time his club had bent the rulebook until its spine snapped.

West Ham's actions over Tevez were wrong and the club was found guilty and punished.

Yet what is equally wrong is to pretend this is a rogue institution, out of step with its compatriots, when the merest scratch at the surface reveals an industry that is rife with suspicious discrepancies and transgressions.

Fairness, it seems, begins at home which, if he is to leave the Premier League with his credibility intact, is perhaps where McCabe and his fellow campaigners should stay tomorrow

The FA have also announced that they are now investigating Kabba's transfer. I wonder how many points they will be deducted for this offence?

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Guest Gary Loughran

West Ham won't be relegated, though according to West Ham Fans .org there seems to be a consensus that Sheff Utd will receive in the region of £20million compensation. I dearly hope this is wrong.

I'd have thought, also, that any compensation would be offset by the fine they'll receive for the Kabba deal giving Utd net 0.

Fulham and Wigan were also trying hard to get compo off the tribunal, to which West Ham were no part.

Ambulance chasers the lot of them.

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