Sunday, March 04, 2007
c/p Patrick Barclay, Sunday Telegraph, UK
What will the Premier League suspect next? That rain is wet? The gradual dawn of a notion that there might have been something questionable about the deal that brought Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from the Brazilian club Corinthians to West Ham is hard to credit. If Premier League officials really did not know that the registration of at least one of the players was partly owned by a third party, they were all but alone. The BBC and everyone else had broadcast it throughout the land and newspapers aired the shameless boasts of Kia Joorabchian, the entrepreneur who had dealt with West Ham's erstwhile chairman, Terry Brown. Yet the Premier League - and the FA - waved the deal through. This was so plainly stupid I remarked upon it at the time. If West Ham are guilty of endangering the game's integrity, so are the Premier League and FA. Yet who administers the administrators? Our sports minister may have done useful work on football with the European Union, but by and large, when the game needs Richard Caborn, he is not there.
Now West Ham are charged and threatened with points deduction. That would be fair only if the Premier League had done their job and warned the club not to field Tevez and Mascherano until investigations were complete, and yet the club had gone ahead and picked them. Meanwhile the new regime headed by Eggert Magnusson have hardly covered themselves in glory. Magnusson came with a reputation as a smart fellow well versed, through Uefa experience, in the ways of football; this lies in tatters. Only a few weeks ago he was handing Brown compensation for loss of office and privileges including a life vice-presidency. Now he is planning to sue his predecessor should West Ham be relegated. Naive or what? It was obvious from the start that Brown was taking a course that might land West Ham in an expensive mess. And, as yet, there have been no reports of an offer to alleviate it with a donation out of the £30 million he made from the sale of his shares.