Last season a scandal involving West Ham United and two supposedly ineligible players saw Sheffield United, most vocally but among others, fuming at the perceived injustice of it all. You can see their point too, as arguably without the world-class injections of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez, the Hammers would almost certainly have faced the drop themselves instead of Neil Warnock’s battling Blades. In April last year, the necessary bodies within the FA concluded that, because the two Argentine stars were contracted only with their representative Kia Joorabchian and not the club themselves, rules had been breached. West Ham were fined a record £5.5million for the transgression, and also warned that Tevez would be ineligible to play unless they cancelled the third party agreement that existed in his original contract, but unfortunately for Sheffield United, they still suffered relegation. Those are the nuts and bolts of it then, but to be honest, everything’s still pretty confusing to work out even a year after the event. What is clear however is the feeling throughout the country that the FA bottled the decision to hand-out a proper penalty for this serious breaking of the Premier League rules, instead preferring to take the soft option of merely a fine.
The point here is that interestingly this past weekend in the Championship, a slightly similar incident occurred in the game between struggling Sheffield Wednesday and then-league-leaders
In a statement made by
Without doubt Wednesday will be punished for this, whether it be a fine or even a deduction of the point they earned, but as with Sheffield United last year, it is Stoke who will most likely be left out in the cold. However, with things so tight at the top of the Championship, would the likes of
If points weren’t at stake, in a Cup match for example, then undoubtedly Stoke would be awarded the win, but with so much to play for, it’s simply too big a call with one or two points for either side maybe enough to get them promoted or relegated. One compromise would be for Stoke to keep their one point from Saturday whatever happens, and for the two clubs to then replay the fixture for only the remaining two points. Again though, what if players from either side were injured or sent off? As you can see, a veritable quagmire exists for the Football League and the FA to navigate through.
While it’s difficult to see a ruling that awards Stoke two points, the core issue is that an ineligible player directly affected the result of a game. This is a pretty sour pill to swallow for any team, but especially worsened with promotion to the Premier League likely to come down to a single point here or there on April 26th…