West Ham United are to push ahead with submitting their case against paying Sheffield United up to £30m in compensation even though the Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday cast some doubt as to whether it would be able to get involved at all.
The CAS secretary-general Matthieu Reeb said that "the door may not be open" for it to hear West Ham's appeal because the case may not fall within the organisation's tightly controlled remit. Reeb also added that the Premier League club's only course of action may be to persuade Sheffield United to agree to take part in any hearing.
Reeb said there were two usual avenues for CAS to be involved. "Two parties in a dispute can only refer a case to CAS if they both agree in writing to come under CAS jurisdiction for a legal remedy," he said from the organisation's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"If the English FA [Football Association] rules did have a specific clause allowing an appeal to CAS in a case like the [Carlos] Tevez one, there would be no need for both parties to agree to have the case referred. But if there is nothing in the rules, it is mandatory that both parties agree in writing to go to CAS." There is, indeed, no provision within the FA rules.
Nevertheless, West Ham will submit their case next week having taken extensive legal advice, including enlisting the help of the Manchester United director and legal expert Maurice Watkins, to challenge an FA arbitration hearing which ruled in favour of Sheffield United over the Tevez saga. The club remain bullish about their prospects and pointed out yesterday that there had been some doubt over whether or not the FA's hearing had the correct jurisdiction when it was set up in the first place. CAS also concede that it cannot make a judgement on whether or not to hear the case until it has received representations.
West Ham also believe it would be "odd" for Sheffield United not to agree to participate in the proceedings with CAS, given the club's desire for justice and the ramifications the whole episode has for football.
The Premier League, which fined West Ham £5.5m for fielding Tevez last year, will today receive a copy of the findings of the tribunal, which was chaired by Lord Griffiths. The League is not thought likely to take any further action.
West Ham are adamant that the position of their chief executive Scott Duxbury, who was criticised in the report, is "not under review" and although he could be vulnerable to further investigation from the Premier League, that also appears unlikely.
At the same time a directions hearing will be held next week by the Griffiths tribunal at which the timetable for deciding a final compensation figure will be agreed. Sheffield United are demanding £30m based on loss of earnings but this total will be fiercely contested by West Ham.
The club are adamant that even in the worst-case scenario they will not have to conduct a fire sale of players and that transfer funds will still be made available to manager Gianfranco Zola.
Dean Ashton, meanwhile, is to undergo an ankle operation next week and faces around a month on the sidelines. The striker injured his left ankle in training last week.
Zola yesterday fined Carlton Cole two weeks' wages after he was arrested. The 24-year-old was stopped in his Audi in London at 4.25am on Tuesday. He was given a breath test and taken to a police station, where he was later bailed to return in November.Reuse content