Date:Tuesday May 1 2007
Whether West Ham should have been given a points deduction as well as (or instead) of a fine, and why Tevez was allowed to play has aroused considerable controversy among English football fans. I don't want to write an immediate kneejerk reaction piece, particularly given that my own team is in the Premiership relegation mix.
The complexities are quite considerable, and the underlying principles far from clear. In the meantime, you can look at why the panel took the decision it did at West Ham . The Tevez aspect of the story is probably even more complex than the fine and an interesting example of how a news story evolves. When I first went on air for Sky by phone at 1.50 p.m., the Premiership line was that he 'can' play against Wigan but not that he 'could'.
By the time the satellite truck arrived after 4, the feed I was getting from the studio was that it would too complicated to sort out all the formalities required by Saturday. But, hey presto, it was all solved by that evening and Tevez played.
I have no doubt that everything was done properly. However, the Premiership was at pains to emphasise that it wanted to maintain a good relationship with West Ham. Leaving aside the issue of not wanting to punish West Ham's fans, which was mentioned as a factor in the decision, does the Premiership want to lose West Ham? They get good home crowds, they have a strong away following, they have recently been taken over by new owners and because of the way they play football (positively) they usually provide good television viewing. So looked at from a purely commercial viewpoint, their relegation would not make good sense.
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