Spurs request West Ham game to be replayed

May 9, 2006

The FA Premier League are set to reject Tottenham's call for their game against West Ham to be replayed at a board meeting on Wednesday - but the events behind the issue may force them to consider an overhaul of their rules.

Spurs have asked the FAPL to order a re-match against the Hammers after 10 of their players went down with food poisoning at the team hotel on the morning of the game.

The Londoners, needing to win the game to ensure they qualified for the Champions League next season, were beaten 2-1 - a result which allowed rivals Arsenal to pip them for fourth place thanks to a 4-2 success over Wigan at Highbury.

The FAPL will point out that Spurs fulfilled their fixture but the London club have made it clear, through chairman Daniel Levy, that they felt coerced into doing so by conflicting communication from league officials.

Spurs also insist they were in no position to replace ill players with reserves who had little or no first team experience.

Levy said: 'Coach Martin Jol and his staff were left in the invidious position of choosing between starting the match with their original 17 players, 10 of whom were feeling very unwell, or drafting in reserves, the majority of whom have not played for the first team or are untried and untested at that level.

'In any case, having ended their season, our reserves were scattered across various parts of London and the South East, would not have been prepared to play in a Premier League (or any other) match at such short notice and would rarely, if ever, have played together.

'This was an impossible position for our coaching staff to find themselves in on the morning of what was our most important match for many years.

'To add insult to injury, the FAPL's announcement that our game would not be postponed was made live on Sky TV from the pitch side at Highbury. In light of the obvious sensitivities and the competition for fourth place between Arsenal and Spurs this was, to say the least, an unfortunate choice.'

Spurs are unlikely to succeed in their bid to gain a replay but they do hope the FAPL will, at least, refresh their rules in case anything of a similar nature occurs in the future.

Privately Spurs are wondering what the FAPL would have done if both their goalkeepers - Paul Robinson and Radek Cerny - had gone done with food poisoning as their only other 'keeper, Rob Burch, had broken his leg in midweek in a reserve game.

Levy continued: 'We simply do not understand why the FAPL failed to appraise itself of all of the facts before turning down our request that the fixture be postponed.

'As a result we played the game with players who were unwell but who were desperate not to let their fans and colleagues down. Clearly, our governing body put us in an impossible situation and gave a significant advantage to Arsenal in competing for that fourth position.'

Levy has also contacted other Premier League chairman to gauge their views on the matter and claims the majority would expect their clubs to be given a re-match.

Levy added: 'We now have confirmation from a majority of Premier League clubs that they would support a replay and in similar circumstances would expect the game to have been postponed.

'This is a gesture made by fellow clubs which supports the (FAPL) charter's aims of running a professional league in a manner in which all of its member clubs are treated equally and in a professional, fair and objective way.

'Additionally, from comments made by Sepp Blatter in the media in the past 24 hours, even FIFA would support the idea of a postponement provided the match was played on or before 15 May, 2006.'

The FAPL board will now meet to discuss Tottenham's request but a spokesman said: 'Tottenham fulfilled the fixture and the result stands. However, the board will meet to discuss the contents of Tottenham's letter.'