Jewell: Hammers fine sets dangerous precedent

THE contrast in fortunes between Wigan and West Ham went far beyond the scoreline as Alan Curbishley’s extraordinary attempt to escape relegation gathered pace and, in the eyes of his opposite number Paul Jewell at least, events of the weekend undermined a basic injustice in the Premier League.

Goals from Luis Boa Morte, Yossi Benayoun and Marlon Harewood capped a superb performance by the winners, aided by one that was every bit as pitiful by the home team, and secured a fifth victory in the last seven Premiership games for a resurgent Hammers.

But West Ham’s greatest victory of the season, arguably in their recent history, came at the Premier League hearing in London on Friday when a panel gave them a £5.5m fine, rather than deducting points, for breaking rules over the signings of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

Those irregularities surfaced when Mascherano moved to Liverpool in January but the fact that Tevez has been such an influential figure in West Ham’s fightback, particularly at the JJB Stadium, has not improved the mood of those rivals who feel the London club escaped lightly on Friday.

“West Ham were better than us on the day and deserved to beat us,” said Jewell. “But the fact is that this matter should have been dealt with at the time when it was first brought to people’s attention.

“I have to say that there is a right and there is a wrong. If the rules say they should have been fined that’s OK, but I don’t know what the rules are.

“I think it is a dangerous precedent. I bet you a pound to my last penny that if West Ham had been marooned at the foot of the table like Watford, they would have had points deducted. It happened to Middlesbrough when they were deducted points for fielding an ineligible player.’’

Jewell’s anger was understandable after the result edged his team closer to relegation, as was the obvious delight of West Ham owner Eggert Magnusson.

Seldom, in the history of sport, can a team owner have been handed a £5.5m fine and still emerged a winner.

“I am so pleased the team played so much excellent football,” said Magnusson. “They looked so full of confidence which is so important at this stage. This has been a difficult week and Friday was an expensive day with that fine. But this eases the pain. I always hope and I have never lost that hope. Now other people are starting to believe.’’

Wigan’s nervous start culminated in a 30th minute defensive error which allowed Boa Morte to poke a long punt forward past onrushing keeper John Filan. Benayoun was on the end of a lethal 57th minute break, and a telling pass from Bobby Zamora, and Harewood completed the rout nine minutes from time with another counter-attack and a Boa Morte pass which left him with only Filan to beat.

Opta Fact: Luis Boa Morte scored his first goal in any competition since netting twice against Charlton for Fulham on 15th April 2006.

Opta Fact: West ham have drawn none of their last 11 matches

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