Wolves punished for fielding weakened team

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The Independent Online

Wolves have been handed a £25,000 suspended fine for fielding a below-strength side in the clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford in December.

Manager Mick McCarthy made 10 changes from the side which had triumphed 1-0 at Tottenham three days earlier.

Wolves then responded by recalling nine of the players that had been in action at White Hart Lane for the next league game at home to fellow strugglers Burnley - and won 2-0.

The Premier League said in a statement: "The Premier League Board has issued Wolverhampton Wanderers FC with a suspended £25,000 fine after deciding that the team fielded in their league fixture against Manchester United on 15 December 2009 was not full strength and therefore in breach of Rule E20.

"The board also deemed that the club had failed to fulfil its obligations to the league and other clubs in the utmost good faith and was therefore in breach of Rule B13.

"The board considered submissions from Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and had sympathy for the explanation submitted by the club in relation to similar cases from previous seasons. However the board ruled that this case could be differentiated from the other matches cited and that disciplinary action was warranted."

McCarthy said: "I accept the Premier League's decision. It was never my intention to break any of the Premier League's rules, only to pick a team that was in the best position to get a result. I'm pleased the matter is now closed."

The Premier League statement added: "In coming to this decision the board also wants to put clubs on notice that any future rule breach of this nature would be subject to a disciplinary commission that would have available a full range of sanctions."

There was speculation at the time that Wolves owner Steve Morgan was unhappy with McCarthy's decision to make such radical alterations to his line-up against the Red Devils.

The club's chief executive Jez Moxey believes the action of the Premier League will act as a warning to other clubs contemplating fielding weakened sides in the future.

He said: "We are obviously disappointed but we respect the Premier League's ruling especially as they have now used our case as a clear warning to all other clubs, some of whom have made similar changes to their teams in Premier League matches in the past, that this is not acceptable in the future.

"We made a detailed representation to the Premier League and pointed to those precedents involving other clubs in previous seasons.

"This ruling may now lead to a wider discussion regarding the issue of squad rotation and the Premier League's rules.

"We look forward to fully participating in any such debate at future Premier League meetings."

Moxey gave his backing to McCarthy's team selection and added: "One thing that's never been in question is the integrity of Mick McCarthy.

"He picked a team that, in his view, was in the best possible position to get a result in that particular game.

"He made it unselfishly and with the best interests of Wolves in mind.

"Today's announcement means we can draw a line under the issue and concentrate fully on the remaining Premier League games."

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