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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May, 8, 2006

Spurs considering legal action over food poisoning

Tottenham are awaiting the results of food tests by environmental health officers before deciding whether to pursue any legal action against the Marriott Hotel or the Premier League.

Spurs were forced to play their final match of the season against West Ham just hours after 10 of their players were struck down by food poisoning.

The police told the club they could not sanction a delayed kick-off of more than two hours and Spurs opted to play the match even though coach Martin Jol claimed some of the players were still vomiting in the dressing room minutes before going out onto the pitch.

The defeat cost Spurs fourth place in the Premiership and an estimated £10million cash bonanza from a place in the Champions League next season.

Tottenham's 2-1 defeat allowed north London rivals Arsenal to clinch fourth place instead with a 4-2 victory over Wigan at Highbury.

But Spurs today denied that an emergency board meeting had been called to discuss possible legal action against the hotel or the Premier League.

However, the incident is almost certain to be discussed at the club's previously planned management meeting but no course of action would be taken until the results of the tests on the lasagne, suspected of causing the food poisoning, were known.

A spokesperson for Spurs said: 'Until we get the results of the tests, we don't know whether it was the food or a virus. We should get the results of the tests in 48 hours.'

Food samples were taken from the Canary Wharf hotel by the police and handed to the relevant environmental health officials for investigation. But the nature of the food tests means that it will take two days for scientists to discover what kind of bacteria, if any, was responsible for the poisoning outbreak.

Hotel manager Paul Downing admitted they were also taking measures to find out exactly what happened.

Downing said: 'We started an immediate investigation once I was informed that some of the players had become ill. At this time I have no idea what it could be but we are working with the appropriate authorities.'

Tottenham coach Martin Jol said it was easier for him to reveal the players not affected by illness in the build-up to the West Ham game than those who were.

Jol said: 'I can sum up the players who were not sick. There was Paul Robinson, Stephen Kelly, Anthony Gardner and Jermain Defoe and the rest were sick. So we had to call for some reserve players.'

Spurs had asked the Premier League to delay the match by 24 hours to allow their players to fully recover but this was ruled out and police did not want the game put back a few hours due to crowd control concerns.

Instead, Tottenham elected to play the match after the club feared they would face sanctions, including the deduction of points, if they chose to pull out of the fixture.

A postponement would have also caused real problems for the end of the league season, with Tottenham and Arsenal expected to kick-off at the same time.

Spurs have often used the hotel prior to Premiership games and have suffered no previous problems.

Midfielder Michael Carrick, who had to come off in the second half, admitted the defeat which cost Tottenham the chance of Champions League football was 'devastating'.

He said: 'The dressing room was in silence after the game. It's so hard to take on the last day.

'We never knew we had done enough, but the way we were playing, things were going well and it put us in a good position.

'Eight to 10 of the boys were up for most of the night with sickness and diarrhoea, not good preparation obviously.

'I had to come off myself because I was gone, exhausted. I just didn't have any energy and signalled to the bench that I couldn't carry on.

'I only had a banana before the game, I couldn't really eat anything. I drank some Lucozade but it wasn't really going down and a number of the boys were the same.

'I woke up and I was in bits. It was the biggest game of our season and it was going to make it for us. We didn't have the preparation and we didn't play well enough.

'It's hard to take especially for what was at stake. We are not making excuses but it's a fact.'

But Carrick refused to be too downcast about the situation. Spurs qualified for the UEFA Cup, which is a step on from last year, and he is looking forward to a European campaign next year.

'We have had a great season and we will try to take the positives out if it. It is hard to do that right now but looking at the whole picture the club's in as good a position as it has been for a long time. We are going in the right direction,' said the England midfielder.

'We have progressed, it's all you can ask, but to miss out on the Champions League spot this way is hard to take.'

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