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By ESPN Staff
Aug 16, 2007

Legal expert quashes Blades chances

Sheffield United have been warned they are on a 'hiding to nothing' after the club instigated legal proceedings against West Ham following their relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

The Blades, whose fate was sealed by a defeat to Wigan on the final day of last season, are seeking damages for the loss of between £30million and £50million.

West Ham avoided a potential points deduction for breaking Premier League rules over the signings of Tevez and Javier Mascherano - and went on to escape relegation with a run of seven wins from their last nine matches.

United had appeals against the verdict dismissed by both a Premier League arbitration panel and a High Court judge.

The Blades are now suing over a breach of contract and claim to have evidence which proves West Ham 'misled' the original independent panel by failing to disclose vital information relating to their arrangement with Tevez's advisor Kia Joorabchian.

But sports litigation expert Peter Coyle told PA Multimedia he does not believe Sheffield United have much of a case.

'I think they are on a hiding to nothing,' said Coyle, a partner of the firm Coyle White Devine. 'Proving West Ham have breached their duty of good faith is easy enough because they have admitted to breaking the rules, but to prove that has been the main cause of their (Sheffield United's) relegation is incredibly difficult to do.

'Sheffield United didn't beat Wigan on the last game of the season. That to me is a bigger reason for their relegation than Tevez, West Ham or anything else.

'It is difficult to advise people to drop anything worth £50million but legally I would be struggling to find a justification to say to Sheffield United 'let's keep banging on'.'

The Tevez saga has been rumbling on since April, when West Ham escaped a points deduction and were hit by a record £5.5million fine.

Sheffield United's action should be the final chapter but Coyle has warned the Football Association to rewrite their constitution otherwise they will face further incidents of clubs sueing each other for damages.

'I think this will be the final furlong. The internal FA Arbitration process is full and final and they can't appeal it,' Coyle explained.

'The reputation of the FA Premier League has been tarnished pretty badly. This doesn't help.

'At some stage the FA has to look hard at its rule book and start again and re-write the constitution to make it fit better with the commercial animal we are now dealing with.

'This is not about sport, this is about money and the rules are deficient in dealing with the business animal it is meant to deal with. I think we will see this again.'