Spurs may seek replay of final game to defuse controversy

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The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur are considering making a plea to the Premier League for Sunday's match against West Ham United to be replayed. Eight players, and two support staff, fell ill before the game, which Spurs lost, ending their hopes of finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions' League.

Remnants of a lasagne dish eaten by the players at the Marriott Hotel in Canary Wharf, east London, on Saturday evening were being examined yesterday by environmental health officers. Initially it was feared that the players had suffered food poisoning. Test results are not expected before Thursday, although suspicion has switched to some form of airborne virus or viral gastroenteritis. Colin Perrins, the head of environmental health for the local borough of Tower Hamlets, said: "There are a number of lines of enquiry that are being investigated, one of which is food poisoning."

Spurs officials, who were notified of a problem at 5am on Sunday, had tried to get the game delayed for 24 hours, but their request was refused by the Premier League. They were eventually offered a two-hour delay to help the players to recover but Spurs' medical staff wanted longer. The club, fearing that they could have points deducted if they did not fulfil the fixture, decided to go ahead. Their head coach, Martin Jol, later said that some players had been throwing up in the dressing-room minutes before kick-off.

Six of those affected - Michael Carrick, Michael Dawson, Edgar Davids, Robbie Keane, Aaron Lennon and Teemu Tainio - started the match, which was lost 2-1, letting Arsenal leapfrog Spurs into the lucrative fourth spot, a result that could cost the club £10m in revenue.

Spurs may take legal action against the hotel, if it is found to have been at fault, or even the Premier League. The Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, is understood to have canvassed the opinion of other club chairmen and to have received sympathetic responses.

Spurs believe that playing the game again would be an option, a move favoured by the club's supporters' trust. However, the Premier League said last night that there was no mechanism in its rules for the game to be played again.

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