Finally nearly two years later, this matter has come to a close. As a Sheffield United fan i found the behaviour of my own club at times to be embarrassing.
The blame though has to be laid at the Premier Leagues door. The initial punishment for West Ham United’s actions at the time was pathetic. A £5.5 million fine at a time when the club was spending freely in the transfer market under who appeared (how wrong we were!) to have very deep pockets . The actions were no doubt worthy of a points deduction, 3 points probably would have been fair.
Instead the Premier League was able to hide behind the legislation determines that such matters are referred to an independent tribunal. What this does is create a grey area and leaves the rules and punishments open to interpretation. Surely at some point when the rules and regulations were drawn up there could have been a set punishment for fielding i players or withholding transfer documentation? This matter could have been sorted within two weeks of the accusation but the matter dragged on until the end of April, smack-bang in the middle of a dramatic relegation dogfight involving both clubs.
There can be little doubt that West Ham’s conduct over the transfers was deceitful but Sheffield United chairman Kevin McCabe became obsessed with the matter. The so-called campaign for fairness dragged the Blades name through the mud. This reached its peak when McCabe wanted reinstatement to the top-flight, something that would not and could not happen. I remember seeing Blades fans at Westminster with campaign banners, posters and T-shirts naively protesting after the Blades were relegated. I remember the protest on the steps of Sheffield city hall and cringed. Yes, every club has the obsessive and over-biased fans who somehow always manage to get interviewed about their club on the television, but this was on the national news!
So here we are after 2 years, endless court proceedings that even affected the blades preparations for the 2007/08 championship and for what? £15million in installments that equate to about £3million per year with United (who are no strangers to controversy!) with a tarnished reputation.
I sincerely hope that the Premier League and the FA learn it’s lessons and set punishments in stone for similar matters and address them swiftly. I don’t know about everyone else but i never want to see a debacle like that EVER again.
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