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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 7, 2006

Spurs reject match delay, despite illness scare

Tottenham rejected the opportunity to delay this afternoon's Barclays Premiership match at West Ham by two hours after revealing several players were suffering from food poisoning.

The fixture had been in doubt and Premier League officials visited Tottenham's team hotel to assess the situation this morning.

In the end the match went ahead as planned and coach Martin Jol named virtually first-choice line-up.

Spurs need to win the match to be sure of fourth place in the Premiership and the Champions League qualification which would accompany that achievement - providing Arsenal do not then win the Paris final against Barcelona on May 17.

A Premier League statement said: 'Tottenham Hotspur contacted the Premier League earlier today to advise us a significant number of their first-team squad had been taken ill with food poisoning overnight and were concerned about their ability to fulfil their fixture with West Ham United.

'The Premier League reminded Tottenham Hotspur of their responsibility to fulfil the fixture and immediately dispatched officials to the Tottenham Hotspur team hotel to assess the situation and receive updates from Tottenham Hotspur club officials and medical staff who provided advice concerning the condition of the affected players.

'A number of options were considered including delaying the match kick-off in order to give the affected players the best opportunity to play. West Ham United and the police were both as accommodating as possible.

'However, after considering public order issues the latest kick-off time that could be considered was 5pm.

'Tottenham Hotspur took the decision that a two-hour delay would have no material medical benefit for those players affected and accordingly decided to fulfil the fixture at the original 3pm kick-off time.

'The Premier League would like to thank Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and the police for their cooperation and professionalism in dealing with this difficult matter.'

Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore was asked whether, in spite of the match going ahead, Tottenham would have leave to appeal afterwards.

He told Sky Sports One: 'Tottenham will have to make their own decision. Clearly they have enough players to play.

'It was not possible for the Premier League to deem it a postponeable event.'

Tottenham go into the last round of matches favourites to finish above Arsenal, who must fare better at home to Wigan than Spurs do at Upton Park.

The Gunners are one point behind their north London rivals but have a far superior goal difference.

Should Spurs hang on to fourth place, they could still be denied their Champions League involvement if Arsenal were to beat Barcelona and therefore qualify automatically to defend their title.

Paul Downing, general manager of the five-star London Marriott West India Quay Hotel where Tottenham were based last night, said: ``They've stayed here several times and arrived yesterday evening before having dinner at 7.30pm.

'We don't know that it is food poisoning but we need to establish what has made some of the players unwell.

'We are taking part in an investigation with club management to try to find that out.'