Chelsea and United back Spurs' claim for a replay

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The Independent Online

Tottenham Hotspur have gained the support of the majority of Premier League clubs for their game against West Ham United to be replayed. Among their 11 backers are Chelsea, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers.

In an open letter, the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, claimed that his club had been placed in "an impossible situation" by the Premier League who had threatened sanctions if Sunday's fixture had not gone ahead. Levy is furious that the organisation's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, carried out his deliberations at Highbury, the home of their nearest rivals, Arsenal, who went on to beat Wigan Athletic and finish in the coveted final Champions' League spot ahead of Spurs.

"To add insult to injury, the FAPL's announcement that our game would not be postponed was made live on Sky TV from the pitch side at Highbury," Levy added. He said that Scudamore should have "made the short journey... to the team hotel in Canary Wharf to assess such a serious issue first hand".

Instead the Premier League sent the England team doctor Leif Sward and its own company secretary to carry out an independent examination of the 10 players who had fallen ill due to either a virus or food poisoning. However, Levy said, before they arrived Spurs were told by the Premier League that they would "suffer the consequences" if they didn't play. This meant, Levy added, that the Premier League had "failed to appraise itself of all the facts". Spurs also claimed that West Ham had already agreed to "the postponement of the match provided that any re-match did not interfere with their FA Cup Final preparations". Scudamore instead offered to start the game at 7pm - rather than 3pm - but that was vetoed by the police.

"What puzzles us," Levy said in his letter to the Premier League chairman, Dave Richards, "is why the FAPL were prepared to sanction a four-hour delay but not a 24-hour delay. If all matches kicking off at the same time was your primary concern, why sanction a delay of any kind?".

Levy has spent the last two days contacting Premier League executives and has had backing from Peter Kenyon and David Gill, the chief executives of Chelsea and Manchester United, Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd and Bolton's Phil Gartside in particular. "We now have confirmation from a majority of Premier League clubs that they would support a replay," Levy said. "We therefore formally request that you order that the game be replayed".

The Premier League issued its own statement last night. "Tottenham fulfilled their fixture and as far as the Premier League is concerned the result stands," it said. "However, the Premier League board will convene and discuss the contents of Tottenham's letter."

There is little prospect of a replay. However Spurs believe they are making an important stand against the Premier League's bungling of the situation.

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