West Ham sharpen blades in Tevez saga
West Ham United have strongly criticised, as irrational, perverse and wrong in law, the findings of the independent tribunal which ruled against them in the Carlos Tevez affair.
They are confident the Court of Arbitration in Sport will hear their appeal against the judgement, which could cost them tens of millions of pounds.
The Premier League club submitted a legal document condemning the ruling of Lord Griffiths' panel in favour of Sheffield United. West Ham argue that they have the right to appeal to CAS because the body is recognised by Fifa as the ultimate forum for such disputes to be resolved.
It had been claimed that West Ham might be unable to appeal the tribunal's decision, with the Football Association's rule K5c stating that by signing up to arbitration, "the parties shall be deemed to have waived irrevocably any right to appeal, review or any recourse to a court of law".
West Ham argue that CAS is not a court of law but a court of arbitration – a tribunal – and that, so far, they have not had the chance to appeal.
West Ham state that CAS should examine the case because of the wide-ranging ramifications for world football and because it believes a point of principle is at stake. The club believe the Griffiths ruling is full of errors and it is fundamentally wrong for there not to be a forum through which this can be challenged.
CAS, having initially appeared to doubt whether West Ham had a case, is receptive to their arguments and will allow a preliminary hearing to take place. In theory, this has to be done with Sheffield United's agreement and the club had until last Friday to respond. However, CAS may go ahead in any case because of the importance of the matter.
Initially, United submitted a demand for £30m in compensation over the Tevez affair but that figure has risen to closer to £50m. If West Ham fought the financial claim, they would demand access to the Championship club's books and their accounts, and challenge whether such money as parachute payments and reduction in costs should be deducted. It could be a painful process and one United will not welcome.
West Ham are furious at suggestions they face the threat of administration because of the economic crisis. The club's chairman and owner, Björgólfur Gudmundsson, who is the single shareholder, was hit hard by the collapse of the financial markets.
However, Gudmundsson has again reassured the club that he has no intention of selling West Ham and neither has he appointed the investment house Seymour Pierce to field inquiries from prospective bidders. There is interest in buying the club but this has been rebuffed by Gudmundsson, who has stressed that he remains fully committed to West Ham and would rather sell his other assets if he is forced to. Understandably, and despite those reassurances, there is nervousness at the club.
At the same time, West Ham are annoyed that they have been deemed a crisis club and claim that they have worked hard, after the over-spending and lack of accountability that dogged the Eggert Magnússon regime, to balance their books and behave with greater financial awareness.
There are players, such as Nigel Quashie and Calum Davenport, who are up for sale and although there may not be funds available to manager Gianfranco Zola in the January transfer window, that would change if he generated money from selling unwanted players which is his intention.