Bubble Boys

Its another grim and damp bank holiday here in England and I am afraid I just can’t be bothered with the doings in Paris. So it being the end of the season it just has to be time for an HP football thread.

Grumpy old Alex has won another title, Mourinho is making excuses for his expensive gang of underachievers, Keano has taken Sunderland from the bottom to the top of the championship in his first year in charge, and most importantly of all (unless Reading win 14-0 next week) Everton are in Europe.

I can’t help thinking however, that some very odd decisions have been made by the football authorities recently. In a blatant attempt to show my lack of bias in these matters I will start with the premier league’s decision to drop the investigation into Everton fielding a third-choice goalkeeper against Manure (sorry, against the champions.)

The Everton number 1, Tim Howard, (from North Brunswick, New Jersey y’all) was signed on loan from Man U at the beginning of this season. Under premier league rules a player on loan cannot play against the club who hold his registration (for obvious reasons.) But although Howard signed a permanent deal with Everton in February, he was still left out of the team against Man United. His replacement Iain Turner (who had only made two premiership appearances before -one of which ended when he was sent off after 8 minutes) made a blinder of a mistake when Everton were 2-0 up, thus letting Man U back into the game and an eventual 4-2 win. Now I have nothing against Turner (who is a very good young goalkeeper) but is anybody really suggesting that he would have been in the side if there had not been some sort of agreement between the managers? Apparently the league are, as they have found “no written agreement.”


Then of course there is the much more high-profile
Tevez/Mascharino affair at West Ham. As the team wobbled near the bottom of the league two Argentinian internationals suddenly appeared in the starting line-up. It later turned out that neither player was actually “owned” by the club, their registrations were instead held by businesses, a situation which breached premier league rules . The club were fined £5.5million for fielding ineligible players and Mascharino was palmed off to another small club . But Tevez has continued to play for West Ham and I doubt that few will disagree that his Maradona-like performances could lead to the securing of the club’s premiership status.

On the face of it a £5.5 million fine sounds like a whole lot of dosh, but frankly with the difference in potential earnings between a club playing in the championship or Premier league being in the region of £25 million, it is really just peanuts. Not entirely surprisingly, especially as minnows AFC Wimbledon had been hammered (sic) with a points penalty earlier in the season for a much more understandable mix up over a players registration, most of the other clubs involved in the relegation battle were expecting a points deduction and are now threatening all sorts of legal action should they get relegated and West Ham survive.

Lets get this straight, West Ham should lose all points gained whilst Tevez and Mascharino were playing. The decision to let Tevez continue playing is even more astonishing: as a letter in the Observer put it yesterday the whole affair is rather like a criminal being found guilty and then being allowed to carry on thieving.

This is not the beautiful game as we have come to know it.

Or is it?