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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 19:31 GMT 20:31 UK
Quartet may fight West Ham ruling
Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano
West Ham broke league rules in the signings of Tevez and Mascherano
Charlton, Fulham, Sheffield United and Wigan are taking legal advice over West Ham's Premier League punishment.

The quartet are angry relegation rivals West Ham escaped a points deduction for breaking rules in the signings of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

In a letter sent to the Premier League the four clubs said: "You can expect to hear from us in relation to this in the early part of next week.

"In the meantime, all our rights in that respect are reserved."

The Premier League have also taken legal advice and have been told its position is unassailable.

Its defence is that it is entirely up to the independent commission to decide on the punishment, and that if the Premier League had any influence over the decision it would be a conflict of interest.

It would argue the commission had a full range of sanctions available to it, and that Premier League rules do not state what the punishment should be for such rule breaches.

A Premier League spokesman tonight said: "We will study the contents of the letter and respond accordingly."

606: DEBATE
MB

West Ham were fined 5.5m but not deducted points after being accused of acting improperly over the transfers.

The Hammers could argue that there was no precedent in the case and that a points deduction was one of a list of penalties available to the panel, and not the sole option.

However, should the clubs pursue legal action, they will make clear points penalties have been issued before for seemingly far less serious offences.

Middlesbrough, for example, were deducted three points in 1997 for failing to fulfil a fixture as 16 players were either ill or injured, a judgement that condemned them to relegation from the Premiership.

And in his explanation of the decision, Simon Bourne-Arton QC, who headed the commission, said a points sanction at this stage of the season would have condemned the Hammers to certain relegation.

He added that a different decision may well have been taken if the hearing had been in January as a points deduction with four months of the season remaining "would have been somewhat easier to bear".

With two games left in the season, West Ham are third-from-bottom as they occupy the final relegation spot with Charlton one place and two points adrift of them.

Wigan are one place above West Ham and the drop zone, separated only by goal difference, with Fulham one point and Sheffield United three points ahead of the Hammers.

Former chairman Terry Brown is also threatening to sue West Ham after being sent a letter terminating the contract he signed when he sold the club.



SEE ALSO
West Ham Q&A
09 May 07 |  Premiership
Whelan may sue West Ham & League
03 May 07 |  Premiership
Ex-chief prepares to sue West Ham
03 May 07 |  West Ham Utd
West Ham receive Tevez clearance
28 Apr 07 |  West Ham Utd
West Ham handed record 5.5m fine
27 Apr 07 |  West Ham Utd


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