Food poisoning leaves Spurs players sick as parrots and out of the Champions' League

Dejected footballers often complain about being as sick as a parrot. But for those connected with Tottenham Hotspur, yesterday left them feeling nauseated in more ways than one.

On the final day of the Premiership season, Spurs had to get as good a result as Arsenal to claim a lucrative place in the European Champions' League, and bragging rights in north London. But their preparations for the game against West Ham were thrown into chaos when the pre-match dinner on Saturday night left 10 players with food poisoning and police picking over the remains of their buffet supper to check for foul play.

Later in the day, an uncharacteristically lethargic Spurs were defeated by a late winner at West Ham as Arsenal triumphed at Highbury.

It left Spurs to reflect on how a bug in their buffet had derailed a European dream and deprived the club of a potential windfall of £5m to £10m.

Conspiracy theorists wondered whether anyone from West Ham or Arsenal - bitter rivals of Spurs - had poisoned the team buffet, but Spurs officials seemed satisfied that it was more coq-up than conspiracy.

Within hours of the meal, top players such as Robbie Keane and Michael Carrick were using their renowned pace to get to the lavatory.

Police, environmental health officers and Premier League officials were called to the five-star Marriott Hotel in West India Quay where the team often spends the night before a game.

Tottenham will hold an emergency board meeting today to discuss possible legal action against either the hotel or the Premier League. Blood and urine samples taken from the players before the game may be used in evidence.

"I have never experienced anything like this in football before," said the Spurs manager, Martin Jol, who, together with his assistant, Chris Hughton, was also affected by the bug. But he added: "I don't want to blame our defeat on the circumstances and I do not think that there was any foul play involved."

Spurs management pleaded with league bosses for the fixture to be postponed but they were reluctant because the final day of the season, with all games kicking off at 3pm, is designed to give no side an advantage. West Ham were happy to replay, as long as it was after their FA Cup final this Saturday.

Spurs asked for the game to be delayed until 7pm but police rejected that, citing public order concerns around West Ham's Upton Park ground. By lunchtime, the visitors agreed to kick-off at the original time as two hours extra would have made no difference to players' recovery.

Spurs held an emergency training session to determine which players were fit for action. With so much at stake, Jol fielded his first-choice eleven but the side, normally impressive this season, appeared lacking in energy. Carrick in particular looked pale and weak and he was substituted with half an hour to go.

Jol said: "We would like to have postponed the match for one day but that was not really possible. West Ham are playing in the cup final next week, they didn't want to postpone the match and I completely understand that."

The deep disappointment felt by Spurs fans after their 2-1 defeat was in sharp contrast to the mood at Highbury, where Arsenal beat Wigan 4-2 in their last game before moving to their new ground. The crowd at the famous old ground erupted in unrestrained delight when news of West Ham's late winner filtered through.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker