Thursday, May 11, 2006

An Arsenal Fan Writes

Here's THAT letter in full. Would it read any less condescendingly if we DIDN'T know it was written by an Arsenal fan?

Sure, it's time to move on, but whilst I don't want to want us to turn into Mareeniho soundalikes, it seems clear to me as this club's profile is raised it is essential that we are, shall we say, 'aware' who we are dealing with out there.

Dear Daniel
Re: Protest and request for the match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur FC on 7/5/06 to be replayed
The Board of the Premier League has today convened to consider your letter to Dave Richards regarding the above and would respond as follows:
Firstly, the Board and a majority of Premier League Clubs are sympathetic to your situation. To have Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’s (“THFC”) “momentous day” marred by such unprecedented events is clearly an unsatisfying way for the season to end. However the Board has to take a dispassionate view, independent of Clubs’ opinion, in order to protect the overall integrity of the League competition.
The fact that so much may have been riding on one game is not as a consequence of just last Sunday’s results, but is the product of 380 games played throughout an entire nine-month season. Speculation about what may have happened in different circumstances even within our league is inappropriate and, in other competitions, irrelevant.
As always, the Board can only deal with the facts on an individual basis and deal with any situation as and when presented. All those directly involved on the day acted in the utmost good faith and with due care in what were unusual circumstances.
The Board of the Premier League, as you might expect, were spread around all parts of the country on the last day of the season. The time frame during which the defining conversations took place was between 11.00am and 1.15pm. The initial contact between yourself and the Chief Executive took place around 11.45am. As always, the Premier League acknowledged your position and promised it would make a proper assessment but in order to do so, the General Secretary, Mike Foster, would need to be contacted. This area of the Premier League’s role is Mike’s responsibility and his experience in these matters since the League’s inception in 1992 is well known to all Clubs. The Board look to his wisdom and counsel on all such matters. Jane Purdon, the Premier League Company Secretary, volunteered to go to the team hotel. This was deemed sensible as it meant we could assess the facts on a first hand basis and have an established line of communication with your people at the hotel. Similarly the decision to send a doctor was deemed sensible to assist in any way we could and for gathering evidence in the event that further facts needed to be established independently for whatever purpose.
Over the course of the following hour, the Board gathered its facts and gave the matter due consideration. It concluded the following:
1) It was satisfied that the following significant facts pertained:
· 6 players had been confirmed as having suffered from either sickness and/or diarrhoea (S & D) that morning
· 2 other players had felt unwell but had not suffered from S & D
(These facts were established by Jane Purdon in consultation with the THFC Doctor)
· 17 players had been at the team hotel overnight
· 3 other registered players had been contacted by THFC and were able to make themselves available
· The match was due to take place at West Ham United (“WHU”) – geographically close enough to Tottenham and its vicinity so as not to prevent other players being called upon.
· An informed estimate that THFC had a minimum of 30 registered players.
2) Following a full discussion between all members of the Premier League Board and Mike Foster, we decided that the game should not be postponed. To do so would be inappropriate given past application of Premier League Rules and would lead to future problems for the Premier League if Clubs deemed these circumstances or similar to be worthy of postponement.
3) The appropriate course of action, having given due consideration to the facts, was to not postpone the game and to inform THFC that it would be their decision as to whether or not they fulfilled the fixture.
As you say, this decision was relayed to you by me whilst travelling towards London. You asked what the consequences would be if THFC failed to fulfil the fixture. I said that I could not pre-judge or advise. An independent commission would be convened to consider the facts and clearly THFC could plead mitigating circumstances. However this was one of the most serious of offences and John Alexander could advise on what has happened in the past, though, of course, all cases were different and based on their own facts.
On the basis of this, THFC obviously undertook your own assessment of the facts and reached your own decision.
THFC then asked the Premier League what our attitude would be to a delayed kick off. The Premier League Board reacted with empathy but needed to consider all the facts. WHU were contacted and made every effort to accommodate. However, understandably, the risk to public order of over 35,000 fans potentially converging on Upton Park for a four to five hour wait was deemed by the Police to be too great. A two-hour delay to kick off was considered to be of no material benefit to your players by your own medical people and therefore was rejected by THFC and the game proceeded at 3pm as scheduled. The Premier League response to your request in this matter bears no relevance to your request for a replay.
Clearly the Premier League Board, as THFC have done, reflected on Monday and re-assessed certain facts:
The Premier League appointed doctor we sent to the hotel arrived after the team bus left for Upton Park. However Jane Purdon, our representative at the hotel, had already relayed to the Board in detail the medical opinion of the THFC Doctor, Charlotte Cowie. The Board accepted her professional opinion and had no reason to dispute it. The Premier League-appointed Doctor’s opinion therefore was not needed.
We had made an informed estimate as to how many registered players THFC had. On checking records it turns out to be as follows:
- Registered players (full contracts) 48
- Out on loan (-6)
- In on loan +1
- Scholars +9
- Total eligible to play 52
- 33 players used in the first team this season
Of the six players confirmed with S & D, only two were in the starting eleven for your last three Premier League matches.
With respect to other matters that you do not fully understand, I set off to travel to Highbury for a pre-arranged end-of-season interview with Sky Sports. I arrived at 2.00pm having travelled 111 miles from the West Country. The earliest I could have arrived at your team hotel was 2.00pm, even if I had travelled directly there on approaching west London. I had already confirmed with John Alexander that the team bus was leaving at 1.15pm and so it would have been pointless to go there.
The Premier League made two official statements via its press office to PA concerning the situation. I only referred to the contents of those statements as part of a pre-planned review of the season on Sky Sports. This was not the chosen method of conveying the decision. For your information, the Sky Sports interview took place 40 minutes after your own Press Office had confirmed you were playing the game as scheduled at 3.00pm.
In summary, the Board having considered the contents of your letter carefully, finds no grounds for acceding to your request for a replay. Indeed, this power only exists under certain circumstances as specified in Rule E. 16 and E. 39, neither of which apply in this case. THFC did have the option of not fulfilling the fixture and will have made its own assessment of the risks associated with that decision. It would have been for an independent commission to have decided the merits of your case; rule on any sanction and/or the appropriateness of a replay.
The Board does not wish to jeopardise the respect and excellent relationship that exists between us and THFC. We remain very sympathetic to the unenviable position you found yourselves in and hope that neither THFC or any other Club will suffer the same fate again. However we believe we expedited our responsibilities effectively and with due care and consideration based on the facts available to us. We of course realise that for THFC a feeling of unfairness at the ill fated events of last Sunday will linger but trust that you will put this behind you and concentrate on domestic and UEFA Cup success next season.
Yours sincerely,


Anonymous said...

We do have to move on alright, but it is beyond belief that officials are allowed to get into positions were they could be accused of having such vested interest. David Dein, Scudamore, Bathwick, they're all arseholes.

Anonymous said...

I hope talk of bellamy interest is rubbish because i think he's a really great player .........about every seventh game.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more, and the attitude oozes of him, I don't think he's our kinnda guy.

Its taken him all season to find any class of form and I would have too many concerns to take him seriously.

Anonymous said...

In other words, jog on boys, the WAFFA Cup awaits. LOL