A fine decision for West Ham

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  Did they make the right decision or not?  Was the crime an administrative error, stupidity or something worse?  Would the decision have been different if the same board had been in charge or the league table different?  How can a player not be ineligible to play but at the same time be prevented from doing so?

It seems that the results of the inquiry into the transfer the two Argentineans to West Ham has raised as many questions as it answered, but at the end of the day it’s done and whilst we may have hoped for a points deduction, we should also have been relying on our own efforts to keep us up.

Having picked carefully through the judgement, or at least reading some of the splurge of internet activity on the subject, the points raised are interesting.  Not least because they seem to contradict themselves.

Now I’m no expert on the law or Premier League regulations but if a player is on a contract that could not be upheld legally (is that even a contract?) and that contract forms part of their registration then surely there must be something wrong somewhere?  Ok so a player doesn’t necessarily have to be contracted to a club to play for them, but does that not have to be declared up front.

The other thing that bothers me is around the third party ownership thing.  Now the media had lead me to believe that this was one of the key issues at the inquest, but despite the tribunal admitting that West Ham had allowed the possibility of a third part influence on their fortunes it now seems hardly an issues at all.  Considering it was something that, allegedly, football was keen to nip in the bud, the noises being made now are pretty low key.
So once again, the contracts were wrong, they allowed the club to come under an undue influence, but the players should still have been allowed to play for the club?

Next up is the charge that West Ham were actually found guilty of, deliberately, withholding documents relating to the players’ ownership.  So, yes they did, but it turns out of course that it didn’t matter anyway and they never would have affected the registration.

Of course the (apparent) fact that they wouldn’t have affected whether West Ham could field the players doesn’t mean that the documents were irrelevant.  Of course the fact that West Ham, deliberately forgot to hand these documents over doesn’t mean they were trying to hide something.

Another quick check on the score tells us that we’ve got two players, with pieces of paper instead of contracts, whose ownership is against the rules of the game and a club who tried to hide the paperwork that contained that information.
Last but not least, the killer is that without a new contract it looked likely that Carlos Tevez wouldn’t be allowed to play for West Ham for the rest of the season.  Reading between the lines, a new contract means a new registration, why would they need that?

So the final score?  Well, it’s basically that the panel have done a grand job of messing the issues up, at least in my mind.  The £5.5 million fine has been imposed says that West Ham have done something wrong, and in a big way, but they seem to have forgotten to tell us what that was. 

In the end, this situation should only ever have mattered to Latics fans because it affects football.  We’re down amongst the dead men not because Carlos Tevez has played 16 games for West Ham but because we’ve just not played well enough.  The biggest impact for us isn’t that they haven’t been deducted points but that they’ve managed to sort out that new contract and he’ll be able to play at the JJB tomorrow.

I really fail to see how the conclusion could be that Tevez and Mascherano were eligible to play for West Ham.  The lack of a clear statement about what happened, about the type of practice that is rife in other countries and adds so much to the corrupt reputation of the South American game, is more disappointing than the punishment handed out.
Then again if the facts are that all West Ham did was deliberately withhold documents that proved they were doing something that was acceptable in the first place, then their only crime is stupidity.  Harry Lyon help us if Latics should ever get investigated.

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